Patience is a virtue. In today’s world, however, where everything is expected to happen immediately, it’s a trait that most people have long ago shed. Rick George, the athletic director at CU who is hell bent on resurrecting the Buffaloes football program, isn’t one of them.

If he was wired like most people, Colorado would have a different football coach right now; that’s almost assured. Mike MacIntyre would be gone, replaced by a fourth head man in seven years.

The results on the field certainly would have justified that decision. During the coach’s first three seasons in Boulder, the Buffs won just 10 total games, going a paltry 2-25 in the Pac-12 during that time. Those kinds of meager results make donors restless, put heat on athletic directors and ultimately get coaches fired.

But when it came to MacIntyre, George looked at more than the numbers. The AD was able to see what others missed, going beyond the stats to determine that the program was in fact trending in the right direction, despite what the win-loss columns showed.

When MacIntrye arrived, CU was at the bottom of the abyss. They were coming off of a 1-11 season, a campaign that saw the Buffs finish just one point away from going winless. But it wasn’t just the record that was brutal during the final year of the ill-fated Jon Embree era; it was the way in which Colorado lost that was disturbing.

On a weekly basis, the Buffaloes were overmatched. At one point during that 2012 season, CU faced ranked teams on three consecutive Saturdays. During that stretch, USC, Oregon and Stanford outscored Colorado by a 168-20 count. In every way, shape and form – from coaching to players – things were ugly in Boulder.

George understood this reality. Despite the fact that he didn’t hire MacIntyre, who was brought on as one of the final acts of the Mike Bohn administration, the current AD was willing to give the coach enough time to turn things around. Given the depths from which they had to rise, he knew that process was going to take awhile.

That’s why George didn’t panic when the Buffs went 4-8 during MacIntyre’s first season, seemed to take a step backwards in a second year that ended 2-10 and then stumbled to another four-win finish a season ago. Instead, the athletic director focused on the positives.

Pundits like to get on their high horse and scream that there are no such things as moral victories. And to some point, they’re correct; all losses look the same in the standings. But anyone who was paying attention to the Colorado football program could tell that there was a drastic difference in the way Embree went 1-11 and how MacIntyre finished 2-10.

During that 2014 season, the Buffs were on the brink of a few victories. They lost in double overtime at Cal and at home against 25th-ranked UCLA, while falling to both Oregon State and Utah by less than a touchdown. The days of being run off the field on a weekly basis were clearly in the rearview mirror.

That trend continued a year ago. Colorado fell 38-31 to Arizona, 35-31 at UCLA, 27-24 to USC and 20-14 at Utah. They also won at Oregon State, getting a rare conference road win to start shedding some of the demons that had begun to plague the program. While the end result was still a sixth-place finish in the Pac-12 South, the path to that destination was clearly a different road; CU was at least able to be competitive on most Saturdays.

Of course, that type of improvement only goes so far. Eventually, being close isn’t good enough; MacIntyre needed to see good efforts turn into wins in order to reward George for his patience.

Last week, the Buffs had a chance to finally come through, leading 28-24 on the road at Michigan in the second half. But once again, they stumbled down the stretch, eventually falling 45-28. On Saturday, it looked like things were going down a similar path.

After taking a 33-17 lead on Oregon in Eugene, Colorado saw their lead evaporate in a matter of minutes. In the blink of an eye, a 16-point cushion turned into a five-point deficit. It once again seemed like CU was going to have to be happy with simply hanging around against a conference power.

Then, a funny thing happened. Instead of wilting, guys started making big plays, providing highlight-reel moments that will be remembered for years to come. First, it was Bryce Bobo’s one-handed catch to give the Buffaloes a lead in the fourth quarter. Then, it was Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception in the end zone to preserve an improbable victory.

At that moment, everyone associated with the program could celebrate, exhale, weep with joy or do whatever else came to mind after the biggest win CU has registered in more than a decade. The Buffs had turned the proverbial corner, something many thought was impossible.

Two people deserve credit for seeing that it could happen.

Despite all of the near misses and setbacks, Mike MacIntyre was able to convince his players that they could find a way to get over the hump. Instilling that kind of belief despite plenty of evidence to the contrary is something not seen in Boulder since another Coach Mac was roaming the sidelines.

And despite the fact that the guy he didn’t hire had posted a 10-25 record during his first three seasons on the job, Rick George stuck by his head coach. That type of commitment is rare in the win-now world of college athletics.

Both men exhibited patience when no one else was calling for it. As a result, they have the Colorado football program trending up, sitting at 3-1 and suddenly in the conversation as a conference contender.

Patience is indeed a virtue. Look no further than Boulder for proof of that fact.