Colorado and Colorado State are way better at educating brilliant young minds than winning shiny football trophies. So why do the Buffs and Rams want to play the fool in a game they can’t win?
Rather than shamelessly begging, borrowing and squealing to be included in the madness that has become college football, the real brave move by CU or CSU would be to just say no to all this insanity.
College football has sold its soul, not to mention its tradition and the last pretense of academic purpose, in the name of television money.
Want to know the definition of insanity? The starting quarterback at Alabama now feels entitled to $1 million in annual compensation that even Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has called “ungodly.”
Smart people in Boulder and Fort Collins should put down the pompons and ask themselves two difficult questions.
No. 1: How are we going to scrape together the resources to consistently pay a quarterback $250,000 per year, much less the going rate on a team with a legit shot at winning the national championship?
No. 2: And should making young quarterbacks filthy rich be central to the mission statement of a fine academic institution?
The handwriting is now spray-painted in neon green on the wall in letters so tall that CU athletic director Rick George and CSU counterpart Joe Parker cannot ignore.
Despite their best efforts, from spending tens of millions of dollars on facilities to firing coaches that repeatedly fail, the Buffs and Rams have been left in the dust by the power brokers of college football.
Never-say-die pride, plus the misty watercolor memories of the way we were when Bill McCartney and Sonny Lubick roamed the sidelines, compel George and Parker to exhort alums to dig deeper in their wallets to bring back the glory days.
But here’s the inconvenient truth: In a state where NFL Sundays are religious experiences for legions of Broncomaniacs, college football is a nice excuse to drink some beer with your buds. Around here, it’s not the from-deep-in-the-soul passion play enjoyed by fanatics in the true college football hotbeds of South Bend, Athens and College Station.
Let’s be real. The Buffs and Rams are not very good at football.
Over the course of the past two decades, on-field success has become an aberration. Give ‘em a grade and it’s a D+.
CU has enjoyed two winning seasons since 2006. The last time CSU won a conference championship was 2002. During the past 20 years, the Rams and Buffs have combined to win 41.6% of their games.
When the Buffs got Mel Tuckered by USC and UCLA, who unceremoniously bolted the Pac-12 for the big green money of the Big Ten, it should have been a wake-up call for two local football programs so blindly self-absorbed in their quixotic pursuit of greatness that the Buffs and Rams can’t even agree to play each other on a regular basis.
College football has ceased to be about touchdowns for the glory of dear old alma mater. Whether they’re Sooners from Oklahoma or Wolverines from Michigan, players and coaches are nothing more than entertainment software for ESPN and Fox.
Kickoff times are set by the whims of TV executives, with little or no regard for families who buy tickets. Travel schedules, with more than 2,000 miles separating the campuses of UCLA and Ohio State, don’t give a hoot about a linebacker’s upcoming midterm exam in biology.
With the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference expanding their spheres of influence so quickly that anybody left behind risks getting sucked into a black hole of irrelevance, the Buffs are living on a prayer, which is more than can be said for the Rams.
Yes, it’s possible that 10 years down the line, Colorado can win 50% of the time in a 64-team super league, while CSU could strive to earn a spot into the big time if broadcast executives decide the English soccer model of promotion and relegation is good for TV ratings in American football.
But what price is too much for the privilege of the Buffs or Rams losing 48-14 to Texas A&M instead of the good, clean fun of beating Wyoming 24-21? At the risk of sounding un-American, bigger is not always better. Life in a small pond can go swimmingly for big fish content to thrive there.
I want to know if there are real academic leaders in Boulder or Fort Collins with the gumption to stop kissing the tail of Ralphie and Cam the Ram in the pursuit of an impossible dream.
College football now has almost nothing to do with college. Even the football part has become secondary. It’s all about money.
At CU and CSU, is ambition now truly defined as winning on the field or the dogged pursuit of every last dollar?
At what point do the Buffs or Rams just say no?