Tad Boyle’s now 13-season tenure as the Colorado Buffaloes’ head basketball coach has been an all-time success; literally.

The Colorado Player of the Year and state champion in 1981 at Greeley Central High School, Boyle’s basketball acumen has piloted the Buffs to five NCAA Tournament appearances and a Pac-12 championship in 2012, the university’s first season in the conference. He’s second, all-time, in wins to only Russell “Sox” Walseth — the man who’s name adorns the hardwood in the CU Events Center. Boyle trails Walseth by only six wins, following the Buffs’ stunning, 78-66 upset of No. 11-ranked Tennessee on Sunday, and will almost certainly pass him in a matter of weeks. His career winning percentage is .620, second only to Forrest “Frosty” Cox, whose 1940 Buffs team won the NIT tournament that season — which was considered more prestigious than the NCAA Tournament, which debuted only a year earlier in 1939 — and can still be argued as sharing the national championship with Indiana. Cox’s .623 could also be surpassed by Boyle (.620) this season. Seven of his players have been drafted into the NBA; three of them in the first round.

Boyle’s taken advantage of the ruins of Colorado’s once-proud football problem, and done what many thought impossible —turned the university into a basketball school. What’s more? Boyle, who’s called Colorado “a destination job,” might just be getting started.

After a disappointing, embarrassing road loss to Grambling State on Friday — the Southwestern Athletic Conference member’s first win over a ‘Power 5’ opponent in five seasons — the Buffaloes regrouped, re-focused and shocked the Volunteers with a lineup that illustrated the kind of trust that Boyle’s players have in him. “[I]  just felt like we’ve got to send a message to the guys that start the game; that they have a responsibility to bring energy and be ready to roll, because we do have quality depth on this team, “He explained after the game. “It also was a message to those guys on the bench that, ‘hey, you better be ready.'”

Benching nominal starters K.J. Simpson, Tristan da Silva, J’Vonne Hadley and Nique Clifford for a lineup that included graduate transfers Ethan Wright and Jalen Gabbidon, senior Ethan Wright, junior Luke O’Brien and freshman Javon Ruffin, Boyle’s message was sent — and received — as his bench outscored Tennessee’s 52-34, led by Simpson’s career-best 23 points and 10 rebounds led the way. “[Sunday] was about Colorado, and he was terrific,” Boyle said about Simpson. “K.J., I thought, really took the game in his own hands down the stretch there, and really controlled the tempo. The 23 points? He’ll have other nights like that for sure, but the 10 rebounds were fantastic.”

Boyle’s roster is deep, and given their youth — underclassmen outnumbering upperclassmen two-to-one — the Buffs’ head coach is investing in developing all of that talent simultaneously. “We’ve got a rotation of 10 guys right now, and it’s hard to play 10 guys,” Boyle said. “But I thought it was a message that I sent both to the guys that start the game, and the guys that are on the bench, that we’re all equally important — and we have to be ready to go every time we step on the floor. I’m really proud of how they responded.”

Simpson’s emergence has buoyed the youthful Buffaloes’ hopes; his first career double-double landed him his first Pac-12 Player of the Week Award on Monday. “K.J. is as good a competitor as we’ve ever had in this program, and we’ve had some good ones,” Boyle offered. Simpson, in many ways, represents the Buffaloes’ future; the talented sophomore leads a youthful, athletic roster that’s about to get even more so next season.

The Buffs surprised the college basketball world by landing the first five star prospect of Boyle’s tenure with in Boulder last week, signing Cody Williams out of Arizona. Williams, the younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Jalen Williams, chose Colorado over blue-bloods UCLA, LSU, USC and his home state’s program, Arizona — and he did so because of the man that will be coaching him. “I love the staff and Coach Boyle,” Williams told ESPN. “When Coach Boyle tells you something, you know it is the truth, whether it’s on or off the court. It is to help you. He is a very genuine person.” Williams, 6-foot-8 and ranked No. 14 on the ESPN Top 100, has designs on joining his brother in the NBA, but he’s not interested in rushing the process. “My brother was a tremendous help with the process; he told me what to look for in a program,” Cody said. “A place I would fit, play, and learn. I see myself achieving my goals in Colorado: playing in the NCAA tournament, being one of the top freshmen in the country and someday in the NBA. I plan to take everything one step at a time.”

While Williams’ scoring ability isn’t in question — he can shoot from three-point range, the mid-range and already possesses impressive ability in the paint — Jalen’s experience has shown Cody that rounding out his game needs to be his step. “I love defense,” Cody said. “I am focusing on my defense because most do not give it enough attention. My brother is now getting playing time [in the NBA] because he has committed himself to guarding, switching and rebounding.”

That’s undoubtedly music to Boyle’s ears, who already landed four-star wing Courtney Anderson out of Dublin, Calif., where Boyle already plucked fellow Golden Stater Simpson. Anderson, 6-foot-5 and ranked No. 86 in ESPN’s Top 100, spoke about defense shortly after committing in September. “I have been complimented a lot on the way I defend, [and] I also have the ability to score the ball at each level,” Simpson told Buff Stampede. “[Colorado] sees me as someone that can push the ball, score a lot of points, and defend at a high level. Coach Boyle said as long as you play good defense, you have freedom on the offensive end of the court.”

Both players raved about Boyle’s culture — the one that was clearly on display in Sunday’s upset. “I had a real good talk with the head coach, Coach Boyle, which gave me a good feel for it. I enjoyed learning about how Colorado basketball is run.” Anderson said. “They are big on culture and the basketball program being a family. You have to be able to trust each other and have great character. That is what has helped them have success, and how they want to keep the program going forward.”

Of course, Williams and Anderson won’t come to Boulder until next fall. Simpson and his teammates are here now, and they’re learning quickly. Their victory on Sunday didn’t go unnoticed; the Buffs garnered 11 votes in this week’s AP poll. “It speaks to the character of our guys,” Boyle said on Sunday. “They are competitors.. they had a bad taste in their mouth, just like we all did. But they responded. That’s the thing you want to see from your team and your players: how they respond to the challenges you throw at them.”