LOS ANGELES — The first person to climb up the orange ladder and clip a piece of net after Colorado captured the Pac-12 tournament title on Saturday evening wasn't coach Tad Boyle or one of the team's senior leaders.
In fact, it wasn't a member of the team at all.
Out of gratitude for the support Colorado's student section, known as the "C-Unit", gave the Buffaloes this week, athletic director Mike Bohn asked Boyle's permission to have one of the students be part of the net-cutting ceremony. Boyle was on board, so Nick Shearon, clad in a Colorado cape and suit of armor, got to climb the ladder, smile for the TV cameras and take home a unique souvenir after the Buffaloes' 53-51 win over Arizona.
It's Bohn who is responsible for the 50 Colorado students who were able to make the trip to Los Angeles to support the team the past four days. Bohn arranged for his department to spring for a charter a flight for 50 members of the C-Unit and to purchase tickets for all the games.
[ Related: Colorado's unlikely run to the Pac-12 title ]
"His leadership bringing those students here is a testament to what he's all about," Boyle said. "That's to help make dreams come true and life-long experiences for student athletes or students at the University of Colorado. I'm just so thankful that those 50 kids could come here and experience that with us."
Even though cavernous Staples Center was not even half full for Saturday's title game, the section of Colorado students brought much-needed enthusiasm. They donned superhero costumes, carried big heads and "#RollTad" signs and delivered many creative chants, from "We don't need no altitude" before tipoff to "Let's go dancing" at the final buzzer.
"They brought a lot of energy for us," senior Austin Dufault said. "Knowing we got 50 kids that took off class and came all the way out here to support us, that meant a lot to us. We knew we had to come out and play hard for them."
Click here for my column from Saturday night's Pac-12 title game on Colorado drawing inspiration from last year's Selection Sunday snub and dedicating its win to last year's seniors who never will experience the NCAA tournament.
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- Tad Boyle