Colorado finds inspiration from ESPN documentary dedicated to legendary Buffs coach Bill McCartney
Earlier this week, ESPN aired it's latest 30 for 30 documentary, "The Gospel According to Mac," highlighting the inspiring, yet controversial, story of the three-year period leading up to Colorado's lone national championship under coach Bill McCartney in 1990. Athletes and students around campus were moved by the documentary which was a lesson for those not alive to witness—or even remember—the "glory days" of CU football.
Current players gathered in the team's auditorium on Tuesday night to watch the initial airing of the show and came away feeling a new sense of purpose and inspiration.
They were inspired enough that, in a season where the team has donned a new uniform combination in every game thus far, senior leaders along with head coach Mike MacIntyre decided to alter their plans. The team will wear the traditional gold helmets, black jerseys and gold pants for this Saturday's tilt with No. 8 Stanford.
"We're doing it to honor and respect everyone that has played here before us," sophomore captain Phillip Lindsay said. "We need to go back to our roots."
The documentary hit even closer to home for sophomore defensive end Derek McCartney who is the grandson of Bill McCartney.
"It's important to keep the tradition going," McCartney said. "All the different uniform combinations are cool, but it's good to bring out the black and gold and remind people of our tradition."
Even though McCartney had grown up hearing the stories of the documentary first hand, it was still a new experience watching the film.
"Just seeing it all together in succession and how it all fits together was cool," McCartney said. "It was cool to see how my grandpa handled all the adversity and how my mom handled all of the adversity, and even my grandma."
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Around campus the documentary created some significant buzz. Nick Johnson, a senior who grew up in nearby Louisville, Colorado, believes the documentary can have a big impact on students.
"Those 30 for 30 films are created to inspire people," Johnson said. "It inspires people that watch it, and at the same time tells our school history which is important to get out there because most people aren't familiar with it."
Johnson, who was born in 1989, said it was his older brother who taught him about the tradition of CU football, and now he finds himself trying to teach younger generations around him on the CU campus.
"I try explaining to people about great players that played here," Johnson said. "They're just like, 'Really?'"
Meghan Bille, an out-of-state sophomore born in 1996, would be considered one of those students.
"I was surprised (by the documentary and CU's winning tradition)," Bille explained. "I didn't know anything it was talking about. It was inspirational, it made me cry. When they were talking about pointing up to the sky in honor of Sal (Aunese) that got me."
Aunese was the Buffaloes star quarterback who passed away in the midst of the 1989 season after being diagnosed with stomach cancer that spread to his lungs. The team dedicated their pursuit of a national championship to Aunese.
Other students were more focused on some of the controversy the film exposed.
"I thought it portrayed the University in a bad way a little bit," said junior Sydney Glosson. "I think it could be bad publicity for the school."
"I think it is hard to talk about CU in always a positive light," junior Jose Valadez said. "At least they talked about the issues that troubled the team, but also how they overcame that and the good that came from it."
Anthony Lepine is SI's campus correspondent for the University of Colorado. Follow him on Twitter.