If misery loves company, the Buffs and Rams need to hug it out. The downtrodden football programs at Colorado and Colorado State need each other. Now, more than ever.
It would be presumptuous to speak for the knuckleheads in charge at CU and CSU, but I miss the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Say whatever you like about staging a football game in Denver between two universities that try to pretend they aren’t neighbors, but the RMS was at least a season-opener the Buffs or Rams had a shot at winning.
Let me be the first to raise a frosty mug of beer for CU athletic director Rick George and CSU counterpart Joe Parker to cry in. The brains behind our sad state of college football got to watch, as the Buffs took on Texas Christian and the Rams traveled to Michigan.
This score just in: Football Programs with a Clue 89, Embarrassing Buffs and Little Lost Rams 20.
New Colorado State coach Jay Norvell gets it, unlike his predecessor, a dude named Steve Addazio. I’m confident Norvell will end the dog days of Daz.
Saturday was not that day.
With nearly 110,000 spectators bearing witness, the Big House fell on the head of young quarterback Clay Millen, sacked seven times, during a 51-7 thumping for which CSU was handsomely paid $1.8 million to play the role of sacrificial Rams.
“Too much, too soon,” Norvell told Brian Roth, the distinguished play-by-play voice of CSU radio network, when a guaranteed “L” became the first mark on his permanent record as head coach.
A night earlier, up in Boulder, the football gods tried to warn the Buffs not to take the field against TCU, delaying kickoff for approximately 45 minutes due to lightning.
But a little weather isn’t going to stop Ralphie from running, or being the highlight of the night for CU die-hards at Folsom Field. Under the lights, the Buffs revealed why they might not be favored to win more than one time all season long, folding in the second half to get thumped 38-13 by Texas Christian.
“I think there’s some stuff ingrained in guys from the past and what this program has been,” Buffs captain Brady Russell told reporters chronicling the debacle. “And we’ve got to find a way to take that out of their mind.”
OK, there’s no sense piling on the players, after they’ve already been shredded and shamed by TCU and Michigan.
I’d rather save the energy for trying to return the Rams and Buffs to some semblance of football relevance in a state where Broncomania is a religion and upheaval in the college football landscape threatens to push CU and CSU off the map.
At a time when the unregulated mayhem of name, image and likeness can turn recruitment of a top quarterback into a big-money bidding war, the folks in charge of academics in Boulder and Fort Collins have to drop all the old quaint ideas of football players being students first and foremost. The business of winning is all that matters. Either CU and CSU fully embrace that reality, or it’s time to quit dreaming of the big time and relocate to the Big Sky Conference.
In this brave new era of the mega-conference, when the Big Ten and SEC want to dictate the terms by which everybody plays, we are told tradition means nothing and geography counts for less. With a gambling app only a click away on any cell phone, there’s all the more reason for a sports fan to sit on the sofa and bet on Ohio State to pummel Notre Dame, rather than hop in the car to go catch a home game for the Buffs or Rams in person.
So before they disappear into irrelevance, might I humbly suggest there’s more need than ever for the Buffs and Rams to work together to build the Denver television market and pull some of our sports yammering away from the minutiae of the Broncos’ situation at right tackle for one weekend during every football season.
Although the Buffs like to believe the Rams are not worthy of being their rival, the certainty in the minds of Alabama fans that Auburn will always be inferior to the Crimson Tide does not stop the two schools form annually playing the Iron Bowl.
While I loved the idea of the Rams and Buffs meeting in Denver, there’s no objection here to staging it on the campuses that stir fond memories in alums, so long as it is played each and every year, without exception.
After a hiatus in the rivalry, CSU is scheduled to visit Boulder in 2023, while CU will make the trek to Fort Collins in 2024.
Then there’s another extended break in the Rocky Mountain Showdown until 2029, when the Buffs and Rams will be playing in the Big Sky, unless they start making every possible effort to keep college football relevant in Colorado.