BROOMFIELD - The University of Colorado's inaugural Parade Of Buffs/Shoulder-To-Shoulder rally attracted a crowd of about 1,500 to the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield on Thursday night.
Speakers at the event included CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn, former CU football coaches Bill McCartney and Gary Barnett, current coach Jon Embree, ex-Buffs quarterback Kordell Stewart and Buffs basketball coach Tad Boyle.
Also in attendance was CU President Bruce Benson and Chancellor Phil DiStefano. The free event was emceed by Denver TV/radio personality Mark McIntosh.
Bohn said the school was "actively pursuing concepts" for athletic department facilities improvement and was eyeing "an early spring announcement . . . please know we're hustling to pull that together."
In his brief address, Barnett said it "has been a privilege and honor to be part of the Buffalo family" and acknowledged how proud he was of former players attending and seeing "the men they've become."
He implored fans to attend Saturday's Pac-12 Conference home opener at Folsom Field against UCLA (4 p.m., Pac-12 Network) and help create a home field advantage. "A home field advantage," said Barnett, "is about who sits in the stands, who comes to the games and the intensity they bring."
Embree's team - with the exception of players who had academic conflicts - also was in attendance following Thursday afternoon's practice.
The night's featured speaker was McCartney, who drew on his Michigan coaching background and the late Bo Schembechler targeting Big Ten rival Ohio State by putting the Buckeyes in red letters on the Wolverines' schedule.
Upon arriving at CU, McCartney did the same thing with Nebraska, identifying the Cornhuskers as the Buffs' rival. On Thursday night, with Embree's blessing, McCartney "red-lettered" UCLA and Southern California as CU's Pac-12 rivals.
McCartney said CU already is an academic rival with the pair of Los Angeles schools, that a high percentage of CU's student population is from the West Coast, that CU has over 23,000 alumni in the L.A. area alone, and that area produces more major college players than any other in the nation.
"We want to play in the Rose Bowl," McCartney said. "It's the only way we get to play Nebraska again."
McCartney told the CU football players, who were seated in front of the stage, that individuals and teams that are "rightly positioned and fully engaged can move mountains." He called the starting offensive line and tight end to stand in front of the stage, told them they needed to understand the meaning of "surge" and had the crowd shout "surge" to them three times in unison.
A host of current and former athletes attended, including Matt Russell, the 1996 Butkus Award Winner; Russell's wife, Sonja, a former CU volleyball player; Michael Westbrook and Blake Anderson, who teamed with Stewart for CU's "Miracle at Michigan" win in 1994; former basketball standouts Lisa VanGoor and Tera Bjorklund; former golfer Emily Talley and Olympian Emma Coburn, who is participating in her final season of track/cross country eligibility.
Matt Russell called Thursday night's event "great . . . I think the school has needed to do something like this for a long time. It's great to have all the sports and athletes honored together."
Victor Rogers, an offensive lineman in the early 2000s, also said the event was "good for the university. It gets everybody back together; I'm seeing teammates, classmates. Sometimes CU falls into the background until you get something like this."
The list of former athletes attending was lengthy. Members of current CU teams paraded through the center of the arena, followed by a parade of Buffs legends from all sports. CU's pep band, cheer squad and mascot Chip added to the night's atmosphere.
Attendees viewed the highly motivational 15-minute video produced by Director of Sports Video Jamie Guy; his assistant, John Snelson; and student assistant Connor Cassidy.
Buffs football players watched the video last Friday night at their hotel in Spokane before their Pac-12 Conference opener at Washington State the following day. Coaches and players credited the video, whose themes were what it means to be a Buff and the significance of singing the fight song, with adding an emotional impact for Saturday's game.
CU rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit with three touchdowns in the final 7:06 and won 35-34.
Shown publicly for the first time Thursday night, the video featured former players from the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s sharing their experiences from wearing the Black and Gold. The video can be seen on CUBuffs.com, along with highlights and interviews from the Parade of Buffs produced by BuffVision.