Tag Archives: CSU

Your Weekly Roundup From the Sports World and Internet

Welcome to the 27th Tuesdays With Mitch, where I hope my Colorado readers are not dealing with biblical rains and flooding. Thoughts and prayers to those who are.

Did you guys know the two quarterbacks from Sunday’s Broncos-Giants game are brothers? They are! I’m dead serious. Look it up if you don’t believe me. (Brad Penner / USA Today sports)

So I’m not really sure how to handle the football season on my blog. Every NFL game and all the big college ones are examined ad nauseam on every platform imaginable. I guess I’ll just briefly throw my two cents on top of the mountain of analysis, make a joke or two and look at some of the goofy stuff.

The Broncos are really, really good. This team looks like it should win anywhere between 14 and 16 games in the regular season. They will probably be favored in just about every remaining game on the schedule. The only games the Broncos could potentially be underdogs are at Indianapolis (probably favored), at New England (they’ve been unimpressive so who knows) and at Houston (they’ve been unimpressive so who knows).

They’ve destroyed teams that are probably pretty darn good in each of the first two weeks and they’ve done so without their two best defensive players. The defense has been surprisingly good and should get much, much better when Champ Bailey comes back next and and Von Miller comes back in week 7.

While that’s all well and good the regular season just doesn’t matter much for the Broncos. They’re in a weak division. They are undoubtedly one of the top two or three teams in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (announcer/analyst voice). For the Broncos, the real games start in the playoffs.

The regular season sure looks like it will be fun though.

Colorado State beat an FCS team and looked pretty good doing it, which they should. It’s easy to forget that this team could really easily be 3-0, but that’s really just something that fans of teams without good records say, so who cares.

Garrett Grayson was on the verge of being benched at quarterback, but played really well against Cal Poly. He earned at least another couple weeks.

The Rams have a great opportunity to really build off their momentum when they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on #1 Alabama in the Tide’s home opener. Seriously though, I’m not sure what to expect in conference play. They should beat UTEP after Bama, then the MWC opener at home against San Jose State will be interesting. Could go a long way in determining the Rams’ mindset for the rest of the year.

Remember this moment from Sunday’s broadcast? I found this weird and creepy and really hilarious.

via @cjzero

Aaaaaaand pose! …1 blink. 2 blinks. 3 blinks. 4 blinks.

This chick is wasted and struggling and has no interest in kissing a blue-haired Giants fan.

GiantsFanShotDownBroncosGF

via @cjzero

One more gif, just because it’s cool.

via @corkgaines

That’s one way to do it.

Todd Helton announced his retirement. I’ll have a (nother) lengthy piece on my all-time favorite athlete next week. In the meantime here are some links:

The video of Helton’s retirement press conference. Kind of odd to see him tear-up and show so much emotion. Really good stuff here. Really sad.

Grantland’s Jonah Keri on Helton’s Hall Of Fame case.

CBS’s Scott Miller had a blurb in his weekend column on the same topic.

Initally, I’m surprised how much support Todd is getting from the national writers. On Buster Olney’s ESPN podcast, he had fellow-ESPNer Jerry Cransack as a guest. They are both more skeptical of Helton’s chances which is more along the lines of what I had expected to hear. Although I obviously adamantly disagree.

The Rockies made this they’re profile picture/avatar thing on all social media platforms, which is pretty damn cool.

via @Rockies

The official account of MLB tweeted a couple cool images as well.

via @mlb

via @mlb

Quite the GIF from the incredible Alabama – Texas A&M game from Johnny Manziel:

via @corkgaines / businessinsider.com

You probably don’t like the guy and his team lost, but #JFF accounted for 562 yards of offense against a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team. He’s incredible and a joy to watch.

Wright Thompson is just about the best. Worthwhile and moving read for you here from ESPN The Magazine.

Key and Peele are back with their awesome football-names sketch. This one’s not quite as good as the original, but it’s still pretty damn good.

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For some reason that reminded me of this classic from last year. Why not?

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This one’s for the ladies. Kliff Kingsbury of Texas Tech is now widely considered the “hottest coach in college football”, which is obviously a very important category.

via @corkgaines

Wes Welker is in some pretty damn funny Old Spice commercials. The whole series is funny, but this non-Welker commercial is my favorite.

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Your viral video of the week: 32 million views in one week for this bizarre production.

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It’s definitely long enough. It’s definitely not too short.

And finally, I’d like to pay tribute to the pair of black slacks I bought 5 years ago. I threw them away last night and it got to me thinking… I remember buying them in what I have determined to be the summer (or possibly winter) of 2008. I wore them at nine different jobs, several funerals, several job interviews, five or so Vegas trips (I slept in those amazing trousers in Vegas) and a couple weddings. They were the first slacks I ever owned that had a flexy-stretchy-style waistband and loose fitting legs. They were more comfortable than any slacks I’ve ever known. They might as well have been sweatpants. Fancy, dress-up, sweatpants. I wore them for a few months after the freaking button broke off of the front. There was also a large hole in the crotch (but let’s be honest you couldn’t notice unless you were really looking at my crotch, which I am only now realizing probably happened all the time).

They were just standard, Haggard brand slacks. Cost me like 35 bucks. But I am now unofficially ranking my all-time great purchases. Those pants are currently clocking in at Number One.

RIP, black slacks. RIP.

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Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn.

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The Evolution of Moby, Court-Rushing Etiquette, The Biggest Game in Years and Other Thoughts Regarding CSU Basketball

The following will be a long, meandering post regarding the state of Colorado State basketball.

Let’s start with my experience at Moby Arena last Wednesday night. No, actually let’s start with when I became a regular at The Whale. I started going to CSU games on the reg my freshman year which was… let me think here, the 2006-2007 season. That team was actually pretty decent for a while. Jason Smith was first-team all Mountain West. I remember a couple games with decent crowds and good energy that year. Upsets of BYU and a Bob Huggins-coached Kansas State team jump out in my memory. The season peaked when CSU received one tally in the “others receiving votes” column of the national rankings. While that’s all well and good, things kind of fell apart from that moment on– not just for the season, but for the program as a whole. Dale Layer was fired. Smith entered the NBA draft. Everyone else on the team transferred somewhere. Some dude from North Dakota State was hired to coach. He went 0-16 his first year in the Mountain West. I was at most of those home games.

Tim Miles vs. Air Force

Tim Miles plays a little defense in a win against Air Force. Miles has led an impressive transformation of a downtrodden program. AP Photo.

My overall memory of Moby Arena in my time as a student do not contain the words Madness, Magic or Maniacs. What I remember is the student sections (Yes CSU splits the student section in two, which is dumb) usually filling about halfway up.

I remember the big scoreboard that had to be as old as my parents. There was no state-of-the-art videoboards. That meant no pregame video introductions. No replays. No speeches from Ron Burgundy. The damn thing was missing about 20 percent of its light bulbs and every five minutes would advertise snacks at the concession stands by flashing the words “NACHOS!” or “HOT DOGS!”. When it wasn’t doing that, it was providing some 1960s-quality animation of a cheerleader jumping up and down or flashing the word “NOISE” to the 1,800 people there. Hard to believe that technique wasn’t all that effective.

One game (I wanna say Utah, junior year) a friend and I were debating on whether or not to go; we didn’t. At halftime, CSU was surprisingly only a couple points down, so we decided what the hell, let’s catch the second half. We walked up during halftime and sat– literally– in the front row of the student section. The Rams lost. That was a common occurrence. When my friends and I joke that we are martyrs who went through four years of pain for the good of future students, we’re only half joking.

Fast forward to this season’s home finale. #17 UNLV. Wednesday. 8 p.m. I drove up from North Denver even though I had to work south of Denver early the next morning, meaning I would not being staying somewhere in FoCo and there would be no drinking. (Yes, in my day, the uncompetiveness of CSU turned many a game into nothing more than an excuse to party, which was welcome for my group of friends. I also realize uncompetiveness is not a word). Anyway, I picked up my longtime CSU-diehard friend and we hoped for the best. We didn’t try to acquire free student tickets using our old student IDs or talking to the slew of friends who are still up there. We treated this one like real-life alumni, CSU polos and all. (If you didn’t know, nothing says “alumni” of any college like a polo).

I’ve been to a few games after graduation. I saw Air Force this year in a mellow blowout. Last season it was BYU and San Diego State, both sellouts, both losses. The SDSU game was probably the biggest heartbreaker of my CSU career. There was a noticeable difference in the atmosphere and electricity for those games last year. But even those were nothing compared to Wednesday night. The student sections were packed over capacity and they were good and drunk and very loud and very into the game. It was great to see. The non-student crowd was pumped too, well, they were until UNLV started dominating.

Vegas was up 15 at halftime and it appeared the Mitch-Hahn-Big-Game-CSU-Curse was in full effect. When the Rebels went up 16 with under 17 minutes to play. I tapped my friend’s shoulder and said, “Let me know when you’re ready to go.”

Then the Rams flipped a switch and all hell broke loose. The entire near-sellout crowd was on its feet for the last 12 minutes of the fierce comeback. The student sections were doing their thing where they simply jump in rhythm to a hip-hop or techno song. That sounds a little lame, but it is freaking awesome. Stuff like that did not exist when I was there, much as I tried. The night culminated with this:

.

Tim Miles, who is never afraid to flash a big smile, celebrates after beating UNLV at a raucous Moby Arena Wednesday night. AP Photo.

Moby Arena, you’ve come a long way.

That said, there’s still plenty of room for growth. In that video did you notice the students rushing the court? No? Well they did. It was the fourth time this season. FOURTH TIME! Colorado, SDSU, New Mexico and UNLV.

Okay before you get upset with me over what is apparently a sensitive topic, hear me out. I have no problem with the CSU fans rushing the court after beating UNLV. They completed a 16-point comeback against the #17 team in the country. The win had huge implications on the possibility of postseason play. Standing alone, there was nothing wrong Wednesday night’s celebration.

But just think if that was the first time the students rushed the court this year. How much more special would that have been? Now you might ask me, “So we’re only allowed to rush the court once a season?” Well, I don’t make the rules, but if I did I would say no.

You should rush the court less than once a season.

While we’re on the topic of student sections– and remember I was pumped to see how the CSU students came out and acted on Wednesday– there was a couple things that made me roll my eyes. Chanting “F***-The-Reb-els” is stupid. It just is. The vulgarity is stupid, but really, the fact that a 6th-grader could come up with a more creative chant is what bothers me. Not to worry though, because that was followed up with a “Rebels suck” chant when UNLV was up by like 14 points. Come on. I don’t think it takes a genius to see the stupidity in that.

Okay, I mentioned the possibility of postseason play earlier, allow me to elaborate on that. After the UNLV win Wednesday and handling Air Force on Saturday, most bracket projections have CSU in the tournament and most even removed them from their “Last 4 In” category. So, yes as it stands right now the Colorado State Rams are in the tournament. The thing is, the season is not quite over.

Jesse Carr vs. Duke

A tough schedule, including a game at Duke, has the CSU Rams ready to play in the NCAA tournament. Check out this video of Jesse Carr throwing it down on SportsCenter. Photo Courtesy Gary Brooome/AP.

The Rams play TCU Thursday at 3:30 in Las Vegas in the opening round of the Mountain West tournament. Lose that one, and Selection Sunday might not be much fun. TCU took CSU to double overtime in Fort Collins, then beat the Rams in Fort Worth, so this game is no gimmie. The Horned Frogs are a surprisingly athletic team and Hank Thorns was recently named All-Mountain West. I would guess CSU will be about 2 point favorites, but one would have to hope the Rams come out and preform well knowing the win-and-we’re-almost-for-sure-in situation. If CSU gets by TCU, they will (probably) play San Diego State in the semis. If I were a betting man, which I am, I would take CSU in this one. The Rams have played the Aztecs very, very tough in splitting the season series. A win against SDSU makes the Rams a lock.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Forget anything I said about a second round matchup. Beat TCU on Thursday, and the Rams are probably gunna go dancing. Lose, and head to the NIT. That makes Thursday’s game the biggest CSU basketball game since 2003 when Matt Nelson and company lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAAs.

(By the way… please don’t ask me if winning the NIT would be better than getting into the tournament and losing in the first round. Screw that. You play all season with the hope of lacing ’em up in The Big Dance with the nation watching. You’re not dreaming about playing Northwestern or Iona on a Wednesday night).

Ram fans have good reason to be reluctant to get their hopes up, but Tim Miles’ scrappy bunch has proved to be resilient and tough over the course of this season. So here’s hoping they come up big this week, win a game or two, and realize their dream of playing in the NCAA tournament. Not just for the players, but for all the fans who remember the boring games, the empty arena, the losses and that damn scoreboard.

Dorian Green, Wes Eikmeier, Greg Smith. Photo courtesy,  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Juniors Dorian Green, Greg Smith and All-Mountain West Wes Eikmeier have had plenty of reasons to smile this season. Photo courtesy Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Can Colorado State Make the NCAA Tournament?

It’s February. The Super Bowl is over and national signing day is done. It is officially college basketball season.

The NCAA tournament bubble is changing fairly dramatically each week, with teams all over the country looking to snag one of the 37 at-large bids for a chance to go dancing in the best sporting event known to man.

The Colorado State Rams currently stand with a foot on each side of the bubble, hoping they can do enough to make their first NCAA tournament since Matt Nelson led them to a near upset of future NBAers JJ Redick, Sheldon Williams, Chris Duhon, Dahanty Jones and Duke in 2003.

Tim Miles has his CSU Rams in decent position for an NCAA tournament berth, but there's work to be done in the second half of the MWC schedule. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski)

I’ll tell you what the Rams need to do to make the tourney in a bit. First let’s look at where the experts place the Rams right now.

ESPN‘s Joe Lunardi projects the Rams to be watching the Madness on TV in his latest bracket. He moved the Rams from his “Last Four In” to his “First Four Out” after last week. Locals might find it interesting that Lunardi’s bracket has Colorado Sate sandwiched between Wyoming and CU as the third, fourth and fifth teams left out. Neither of the other brackets mentions the folks in Laramie or Boulder. (Sidenote: Wyoming still has to play UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico and Colorado State on the road. I’ll think they’ll go 0-4 and be removed from the discussion).

CBS‘s Jerry Palm has CSU playing in the 13-seed play-in game in his bracket. He has the Rams as his last team in.

Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Glockner has the Rams playing in the 12-seed play-in game in his bracket. He also has CSU among his “Last Four In.”

Now it’s important to keep in mind that these bracket projections– as fun as they are– don’t really mean much and are kind of silly. These are all simply guesses at what the selection committee might do if the season ended today. Thing is, the season doesn’t end today; there’s a lot of basketball left to be played.

Rewind to about a year ago. I remember scanning these brackets and seeing the Rams projected to make the field in most of them (even a 10-seed at one point). Then the team lost four of five regular season games and got bounced in the opening round of the Mountain West tournament. They were nowhere to be found on Selection Sunday.

With that in mind let’s look at what Tim Miles’ squad has done and needs to do.

Besides team records and the “eyeball test” (whatever the hell that is) the things the selection committee looks at the most are RPI, Strength of Schedule, Quality Wins and Bad Losses.

The biggest thing working for the Rams are the computer numbers. Their RPI is 26 and their SOS is 10. Those numbers indicate a lock to make the tourney. The Rams don’t have any bad losses either. However, CSU has only one quality win (San Diego State at home). To make the tourney, they will have to get a few more wins over RPI top 50 and top 100 teams.

They will have their opportunities.

We are halfway through the MWC schedule. Each team has played seven games with seven to go. The Rams went 4-3 the first time through with all three losses coming on the road to some of the better teams in the conference (UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming) they get those teams in Moby this time around.

Here’s what needs to happen for the Rams in their seven remaining games for them to go dancing:

at TCU: Must win

at Boise State: Must win

vs. Wyoming (70 RPI) : Must win

vs. New Mexico (43 RPI) : Must win

at San Diego State (18 RPI) : Can afford to lose, but a win would make them a near-lock (assuming they haven’t lost to TCU, BSU or UW).

vs. UNLV (11 RPI) :  Pretty close to a must win

at Air Force:  Must win

Okay you got all that? Simple stuff really. Pop quiz coming soon.

This team should be better prepared for a stretch run and the accompanying pressure after last year’s collapse. The above schedule is no walk in the park, and actually when you factor in the number of “must wins,” it’s pretty daunting. The Rams can’t afford to slip up one time and lose a game they shouldn’t. That’s not an easy thing to handle.

So I guess for me the bottom line is this: I would be surprised if the Rams make the NCAA tournament. It’s hard for me to see a 6-1 record finish and even 5-2 might not be enough.

Either way, we should be in for an interesting few weeks of college basketball.

A Tumultuous Week for CSU Football and Other Musings

Jack Graham (Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post)

CSU fans sure hope Jack Graham knows what he's doing. (Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post)

I know I haven’t been around all that long, but I think Colorado State football fans will be hard-pressed to come up with a more tumultuous week than the one we all witnessed recently. Here’s a quick timeline of the events:

  • Thursday morning:  Highly respected athletic director Paul Kowalczyk fired completely out of the blue. The final 3 1/2 years of his contract are bought out using “private funds” (meaning donors/boosters likely pushed Kowalczyk out).
  • Thursday morning:  Kowalczyk replaced by Jack Graham, a passionate donor with zero athletic administrative experience.
  • Thursday afternoon: CSU President Tony Frank posts a letter in which he confirms his commitment to athletics at CSU. One eyebrow-raising sentence mentions “the impact that a privately funded football stadium on our campus would have.”
  • Saturday:  Nearly pull off a large upset against arguably the Rams’ biggest rival, only to fall short in the fourth quarter (no surprise there).
  • Sunday:  Fourth year coach Steve Fairchild fired by Graham.
  • Monday:  Graham announces his perplexing hiring of a national search firm to look for coaching candidates. Someone is paying the firm a quarter of a million dollars.
  • Tuesday morning:  Fort Collins Coloradoan article confirms that Jack Graham wants/is thinking about an on-campus stadium.

Whew… Need a few shots of Pepto Bismol to digest all that.

Other local and national sports musings:

  • How cool was it to see CSU play on Coach K court in front of the Cameron Crazies? It would have been cooler if they had a contributor taller than 6′-6″.
  • Am I the only CSU fan who was very disappointed to see the students rush the court after beating Colorado? We did the same thing two years ago and Kowalczyk sent us all an email saying how stupid it was. He was right.
  • In six or seven years the St. Louis Cardinals will be glad they’re not paying Albert Pujol$ $25 million a year, but don’t tell that to the 12-year-old in Missouri who has slept in a Number 5 jersey-T for as long as he can remember.
  • It seems like David Stern is losing control of the NBA. His nixing of the Chris Paul trade screws over three different franchises, but none more than the small market New Orleans Hornets, which he was trying to protect. Superstars in the final year of their contract will always have the power to dictate where they want to sign. It’s just an unfortunate truth.
  • The Rockies better sign some starting pitching during this offseason, the sooner the better. Getting rid of Huston Street and his contract to create flexibility was fine, but now it’s time to make some moves.
  • I would like to see Nene come back for the Nuggets, but I have a feeling some other team is willing to overpay for him. I think the Nuggets have to let them. A max contract would be a little much.
  • And no post would be complete without this:  TEBOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!!! At this point, there’s no sense in being skeptical. I’m all-in on the Tebow Train, and I worry that lots of people in Denver and across the country are too busy trying to be quarterback experts to enjoy what we’re seeing. This is the most remarkable football season of my generation’s lifetime, just shut up and enjoy it already.

Is Colorado State’s Win over Utah State a Season-Changer?

Colorado State pulled off an unlikely, double overtime win with an unbelievable finish over Utah State in Logan tonight. If you missed it– and a lot of people did– you can watch the reply online here.

CSU recovered a fumble on a punt return, down 8 points with about 2 1/2 minutes left. Four Chris Nwoke runs later the score was 21-19 Utah State. After a timeout, Pete Thomas hit his favorite target, tight end Crockett Gillmore, for the dramatic, game-tying 2-point conversion.

Both teams scored easily in the first overtime. In the second overtime, the Rams had the ball first and Chris Nwoke scored another touchdown. Utah State scored in one play on 25-yard run.

Then Utah State head coach Gary Andersen tried to be a hero.

He chose to go for the two-point conversion and the win, a very rare call for the home team in that situation. CSU thought they won after an incomplete pass, but pass interference was called. So all the Aggies had to do was score from the one yard line for the win. The Rams’ defense stuffed the run, and the game was over.

I was excited. I texted my dad and he replied, “D ude. Utah State?” (and yes that unnecessary space inside the word “dude” was included. Still not sure if old people will ever learn to text.)

To be clear, Utah State did everything they could to lose this game. Andersen’s overtime call, coupled with four lost fumbles, were gifts that the Rams dearly needed, but CSU will not apologize for this victory.

Some people will look at beating a WAC team on the road and shrug their shoulders. But CSU was a 9-point underdog and it pulled off the win. On the road.

Rebuilding a program takes some serious work and it starts by beating mediocre teams in games that you’re not supposed to win.

If the Rams lose this one, the season starts to look a lot like the same old crap we’re all used to. I’m not saying CSU is gunna enter the top 25, or that they’ll hang with Boise State in a couple weeks. But this win should be a confidence builder. It dramatically changes the outlook of the 2011 season.

After this win, it’s not unreasonable to plan on beating UTEP in El Paso or San Diego State and Wyoming in The Fort.

Suddenly, after one very mediocre win, things are looking a quite a bit brighter for the CSU Rams.

My Favorite Rocky Mountain Showdown Memories

The view from Folsom Field

Note: (August 2013): This post was originally published Sept 16, 2011. There are numerous references to “thirties” and “bottles” which was an intentional reference to what was the name of my blog at the time. It’s also interesting to see how my writing style has subtly changed in the last two years. It’s the same post, but I am adding a very important update from the year 2011 and a few more pictures. Hope you enjoy.)

The annual outdoor kegger known as the Rocky Mountain Showdown starts bright and early again Saturday morning.  I went to my first Showdown in 2006 and I’m looking forward to attending my sixth consecutive Showdown this weekend; I’ll be providing a thirty and a bottle. I have a feeling some of the other 65,000+ attendees will bring some libations as well. I’ve been a CSU fan for as long as I can remember, so I recall the big time moments. I remember watching the Bradlee Van Pelt head spike on TV. I remember the Marcus Houston goal line stand. I remember the tear gas. I was a kid for those. The CU game took on a whole new meaning to me when I started to go in person.

I’ve had a blast at each of the last five contests between the Buffaloes and the Rams, although some years have been more fun than others.

My eyes were opened to the awesomeness of this game in 2006. My freshman year at CSU, a random mix of kids from 3NW Parmelee Hall piled in my bright red ’95 Buick Skylark (may God rest her classic soul) and headed down I-25. We didn’t know exactly what we were getting into. The traffic and parking thing was kind of a disaster but we settled into some good seats before kickoff. Surprisingly, I wasn’t much of a drinker at this time so we bypassed the tailgating experience, which seems like a heinous crime today.

Anyway, during the game I was blown away by the passion, intensity and vulgarity of the student section. The “Dir-Ty-Hipp-ies” chant never seemed to end. I remember thinking, “I can get down with this.” CSU won, 14-10 behind a 20-23 effort from Caleb Hanie and a big touchdown grab from Korey Sperry. Dan Hawkins was 0-2 as CU’s coach after losing to Montana State the previous week. Some CSU fans wore Blue and White Montana State shirts. Driving back to Fort Collins I kind of knew I wasn’t going to miss too many of these games.

In 2007 the TV networks rewarded our not-so nationally prominent programs with the coveted 10 a.m. kickoff slot. I wondered what the tailgating scene would be like at 7 in the morning. It was not hindered. We pulled up to see beer pong games already in hotly contested double-overtime. Thirties and bottles were being torn apart before most of the state’s alarm clocks had gone off. The game was exciting but disappointing. Down 31-28 in overtime, Hanie threw an interception in the end zone to end the last game Sonny Lubick coached against the University of Colorado.

One of my best friends got punched in the face in 2008. This might be my favorite off-field memory of these games. By this year, we were all-in, tailgating veterans. Grill. Truck. Music. Multiple thirties. Plenty of bottles. Prime Location. And the time-slot, though on a Sunday, was an ideal 5:30 p.m.

Naturally, it was our duty to accost and harass anyone who came through our parking lot in a gold shirt. After a few hours of drinking, Matt 3 (that’s just his name, don’t ask questions) decided a CU fan deserved to have some Keystone Light dumped on his head. Not like a celebratory, waving/spraying of beer, just a calm three-second pour as if the kid was balancing a cup on top of his head and Matt was just topping him off. The Boulderite shockingly did not appreciate this gesture and cold-cocked 3 (below, shirtless) right in his cheek.

Our 2008 tailgate was full of shenanigans.

Things got interesting at our 2008 tailgate for Matt 3 (shirtless) and Andrew (arms out, clearly intoxicated). I have no idea who the two females are.

Somehow a random CSU girl managed to calm Matt down– not a particularly easy task– and the situation did not escalate. It helped that she was a certified bombshell. Maybe she was an angel of peace. Anyway, the CU kid had some friends in green and gold that kept the rest of us from throwing down in fisticuffs, as Ron Burgundy would say.

That was the same year we saw people (not in our group) throwing full, unopened cans of beer at CU kids. That was the same year I had my brother Andrew’s (above, tongue out, one eye unintentionally closed) ticket. I never gave it to him and when we were going into the stadium he was nowhere to be found. He got into the game without a ducat, although he’s not sure how. I’m still waiting for him to pay me for that unused ticket. He did receive a different kind of ticket before the game, this one for public urination after relieving himself on someone’s CU flag that was laid on a grassy knoll. Looking back, that was quite the tailgate.

Inside the stadium ,things were equally chaotic for CSU in Steve Fairchild’s debut. An uninteresting 38-17 loss. There were back-to-back kickoff returns for each team, which was kind of cool I guess. Whatever. We left dejected and already hungover.

The game was in Boulder my senior year. A lot of CSU students didn’t go as some sort of stupid protest or something. It was a true road game, so there were no deals for CSU student tickets. My friends and I each dropped about $70 to get into Folsom. It was worth every penny. For the first time in the series, I admittedly drank a little bit too much, but I still remember the good parts.

As our group of about ten was walking into the stadium, we encountered a girl from CU. If I drank a little too much, she drank way too much. As her boyfriend looked on in embarrassment, she tried to fight a couple of us. She was stumbling forward attempting to land absolute haymakers on one of my friends. He calmly ducked under them as the rest of us were just cackling with laughter. She had a legitimate audience and, even though she didn’t know it, she was killing the crowd.

Andrew decided to come to the tailgating festivities this year without a ticket again. Naturally, by game time he had enough liquid courage to attempt to get into the game without one. After a few security guards had turned him away, his friend Travis, who was already inside, did something hilarious. Forgetting that he had his face painted in green and gold lettering, he found a yellow security jacket, put it on and tried to tell another security guard that Andrew had to come with him. It may have been the painted face, the plaid shorts, or the sandals, but that didn’t work. Andrew eventually found a ticket-taker who didn’t care enough to fight off a sea of drunk kids. He gave him a ticket that was already scanned and the dude let him in anyway.

CU Fans

The blurry picture I took of the CU Fans watching me dance on the midfield logo at Folsom Field.

Inside the stadium, things went pretty well. CSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead behind two John Mosure touchdowns. The Rams held on for a 23-17 win and the CSU students who are not lame left our seats and celebrated with the team on Folsom Field. We rushed the hell out of that field, and it was one hell of a party. Dancing on the midfield logo. “C-S-U!” chants. Waving to the gold-clad fans in their season-ticket seats as they angrily watched in disgust. Snow angels (minus the snow) in the endzone. That experience is probably once-in-a-lifetime and I was pretty lucky to be a part of it.

Last year was my first game as a graduate, but I went disguised as a 5th-year senior. This one was pretty uneventful. We got to the parking lot early and grilled and drank. I remember pouring 16 ounces of Vodka (Burnette’s of course) into a cup because I didn’t want to walk around with an open container. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I shared it with strangers who seemed to appreciate my kindness. The game was a blowout. Pete Thomas threw three pics; Tyler Hansen accounted for three touchdowns. We left pissed off sometime in the third quarter as CU handed us a 24-3 ass kicking.

I’m planning on taking a more grown-up approach to this game (I even bought my first non-student-section ticket!), but that might fly out the window after slamming a couple beer bongs and imbibing some Jim Beam. Just like that first game in 2006, I never know exactly what I’m getting myself into at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Very important update (8/31/13): 

“I’m planning on taking a more grown-up approach to this game.” Ummm… yeah. In 2011, we partied pretty hard and the tailgating was a blast. A couple specific moments stick out enough for me to share them with you.

Our group was posted up with a few cars on the edge of one of the CSU parking lots. Beyond the lot there is a curb, and a grassy hill that leads to a sidewalk. The hill is probably about 15 feet high and the sidewalk is probably about 25 yards from where my group was primarily positioned. Naturally, over the course of the tailgate, this sidewalk is a major thoroughfare with heavy pedestrian traffic from fans of both teams.

Eventually, we decided it was time to harass some folks in yellow shirts. Not sure why; I guess we were just sick of looking at that horrible color. At some point, somebody suggested to my friend Todd, that he take a hot dog off the grill and try to hit a CU fan with it. This quickly became the moment when Todd stole the show. We’ve known Todd for years and he’s a good dude, but there is no doubt at all that this sequence of events is truly his one shining moment.

There’s always a handful of unused burgers and dogs that go uneaten, and Todd grabbed one. With a smirk and an uncontrollable boyish giggle, Todd actually throws the damn thing. I think this was unexpected by most of us. Whoever suggested this brilliant idea probably didn’t think he would actually do it. But he did. He grabbed the dog with his thumb and forefinger and flung this wiener end-over-end on a high, looping arc, similar to that of the opening kickoff a couple hours later. The throw turned out to be an unbridled success as Todd hit the pretend bullseye on this grown man’s chest. He was clearly surprised that a cooked Oscar Meyer had come out of nowhere to bounce of his chest, but he kept his cool and didn’t really look over.

We had a subdued reaction. Mostly it was turning our backs and stifling our uncontrollable laughter. That was pretty awesome, but that was just the build up.

A little while later, someone suggested to Todd that he try the same feat, only with a burger instead of a dog. At this point it should be no surprise that Todd accepted this challenge. He grabbed a cooked patty that wasn’t going to be eaten and picked his yellow-clad target. Again most of us were surprised that he was actually doing this.

So as our large group looked on in excited anticipation with a sense of wonder, Todd flings this thing like a frisbee. Not an across-the-body, backhand frisbee throw, but an off-to-the-side, submarine style frisbee throw with a dip of the shoulder.

The flight of this hamburger is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, and I say that without hyperbole.

Keep in mind Todd’s intended target was about 25 yards away and up a 15-foot hill. Initially the burger is tailing to the right and it looks like this will be a letdown following the tremendous hot dog incident. But then… the burger starts to curve… like an intended hook on a golf ball or a frisbee floating on a gentle breeze….

HolyShitThatMightHitThatGuy…

NoWay…

LookAtThis…

Ohhhhhhhhhh….

And then…

BOOM!

The hamburger catches this dude precisely on the temple and absolutely explodes upon impact. Our tailgating group also exploded upon impact. Ohhhhhhh! There was about 12 of us jumping around like we were all on Maury and learned we arrrrrrrre NOT the father. Todd immediately rolled right into the “Cat Daddy” dance (fellas, you’ll want to click that link). Seriously though, the reaction was the best part of the entire day and it was eerily similar to this:

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I mean, it was EERILY similar to that.

CSU lost that year, by the way.

Since I’m on the topic, here are some pics of my favorite tradition, The Group Shotgun. Pictures tell me it began in 2010. It will never die.

2010b copy 2011a copy2012a

Top 2010, Middle 2011, Bottom 2012.

Thanks for reading. Go Rams. Hope to see you all tomorrow.

 

CSU Football Preview 2011

Photo Courtesy Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Steve Fairchild has some serious work to do if he wants to keep his job. (Photo Courtesy Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

A super-soft schedule may bail out Steve “In-Way-Over-My-Head” Fairchild this season for the CSU Rams. It may even force him to somehow crack a smile, which, to the best of my knowledge, would be a first.

I won’t lie, I thought Fairchild was a good hire when it went down. After he took Sonny Lubick’s players to a bowl win in 2008, I thought it looked even better. Things have kind of fallen apart since.

The Rams went 3-9 (again) last year. Going 3-9 is unacceptable, but the way last season ended makes things even more concerning.

The last home game was Senior Day (naturally) against a good BYU team. The Rams didn’t bother to show up, losing 49-10. That was embarrassing.

If the BYU game was embarrassing, the next week was humiliating. The Rams rode into Laramie for the annual Border War against arguably their biggest rival with a chance to end the season on a positive note. Wyoming was winless in the Mountain West coming into the game at 0-7.

Then the ‘Pokes beat CSU 44-0.

That game was a disgrace and hinted that Fairchild’s players may have quit on him, which has to be red flag for the program.

This year should be more kind to the Rams, thanks in large part to an easy out-of-conference schedule and a diminished Mountain West. Playing Boise State doesn’t make things any easier, but the departure of Utah and BYU make the overall conference less legit (as we used to say in Parmelee Hall).

Photo Courtesy of AP/Lenny Ignelzi

Pete Thomas needs to take some strides forward for the Rams' offense to progress. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

This year’s offense will go as far as Pete Thomas carries it. Thomas took his lumps as a freshman QB but still showed plenty of promise. Fairchild runs a fairly complex, pro-style offense and this is his first opportunity to coach a returning starter under center. If Thomas can find someone to throw the ball to, the ballyhooed recruit should be in position to take significant steps forward. On a related note, ballyhooed is a greatly underutilized term.

Defensively, there are certainly some holes but Mychal Sisson should have a monster season at linebacker. The senior used his speed to lead the nation in forced fumbles last year. He also led the Rams in tackles for a loss.

This Saturday starts an interesting season for the future of the Colorado State program. Progress is necessary. The status quo cannot be accepted.

Here’s my week-by-week breakdown:

Game 1: Sept. 3: @New Mexico  W (1-0)

This game is huge. New Mexico is picked to finish last in the MWC. They are awful. The Rams should beat this team. But winning on the road in college football isn’t an easy task, and when you’re CSU that includes playing in Albuquerque. If the Rams choke this one up, Fort Collins is in for yet another very long season and Fairchild should start looking through a few “Help Wanted” ads.

Game 2: Sept. 10 Northern Colorado W (2-0)

Northern Colorado has gone 3-8 the past two seasons– sounds kinda familiar– but UNC is a FCS (aka D-1AA) team with a first-year coach. They should be completely overmatched playing in Fort Collins. This could be a trap-game for the Rams with Colorado on deck and Bears’ coach Earnest Collins Jr. looking for a signature win, but let’s be real: CSU won’t lose this one.

Game 3: Sept. 17 Colorado* L (2-1)

*Neutral site.    Invesco Sports Authority Field at Mile High 

I really can’t stand CU, so I don’t want to pick them here, but I think their team is a little bit better than CSU again this year. Colorado’s schedule is brutal. They play 13 straight weeks without a bye. They will be huge underdogs in almost every Pac-12 Conference game. I think new coach Jon Embree realizes that The Showdown is one of the only opportunities for his program to come up with a big win. The senior duo of Tyler Hansen at quarterback and Rodney Stewart at running back should put up some big numbers against the Rams’ defense. Losing to the Buffs makes me sick, so I hope to God I’m wrong on this one.

Game 4: Sept. 24 @Utah St. W (3-1)

Utah State went 2-6 in the WAC last year and their only road win came against San Jose State. They are breaking in new starters at quarterback and running back. The Aggies will be coming off a bye week, which doesn’t help, but if the Rams are at all improved they should win this game.

Game 5: Oct. 1 San Jose St. W (4-1)

This game might be even more of a cupcake than the UNC game. Rammies win big on Homecoming Weekend.

Game 6: Oct. 15 Boise St. (4 pm) L (4-2)

Boise State is one of the best teams in the nation. BSU is better than CSU. Need I say more?

Sidenote: If CSU does beat CU, this could be a matchup of two 5-0 teams and a potential sellout of Hughes stadium for the first time in recent memory. A 4 pm start would make things even more fun/rowdy/dangerous/riot-provoking.

Game 7: Oct. 22 @UTEP W (5-2)

UTEP went to a bowl game last year but lost six of their last seven games, including getting hammered by BYU in the New Mexico Bowl. Four-year starting quarterback Trevor Vittatoe is long gone and the Miners are in a rebuilding year. Sports Illustrated is picking them to go 0-8 in Conference-USA. Rams finish out-of-conference play at 4-1.

Game 8: Oct. 29 @ UNLV W (6-2)

The Rams crushed UNLV at home last year 43-10. Things are different on the road, so this is no chippy. UNLV only has three conference home games, so this is probably their best shot at putting a tally in the left-hand column in conference play. Still, the Lobos are a bad team and are also breaking in a new quarterback. If CSU loses this one, it would be a big disappointment. They’ll pull it off and remarkably become bowl eligible before Halloween.

Game 9: Nov. 12 San Diego St. (4 pm) L (6-3)

This is an intriguing game. Things are lined up for CSU to pull off an upset of one of the nation’s upstart programs. The Rams are coming off a bye week. The Aztecs might have one eye on hosting Boise State the following week. However, I don’t see the Rams defense stopping SDSU’s prolific offense. Senior quaterback Ryan Lindley– one of the better signal callers in the country and the best in the Mountain West not named Kellen– threw for 26 touchdowns and over 3500 yards last year. Sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman ran for 1500 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in his freshman campaign. I think the Rams keep it close, but don’t come up with enough key stops to pull it off.

Game 10: Nov. 19 @ TCU L (6-4)

See explanation of game 6.

Game 11: Nov. 26 Air Force (4 pm) L (6-5)

If you like college football and live in Colorado, you love Troy Calhoun. The Falcon’s coach is getting done at a service academy and is turning down major offers to stay at his alma matter. I see another big year from the Falcons and I think they might even be ranked when they roll into Fort Collins. Air Force has beaten CSU five straight years, twice in FoCo. This year the home-field advantage (can you even call it that at Hughes?) will be diminished by Thanksgiving Break. Senior quarterback Tim Jefferson is primed for a huge year running the triple option that I can’t ever remember the Rams shutting down.

Game 12: Dec. 3 Wyoming W (7-5)

Andy Carpenean - AP

If I could type the sound of vomitting, it would be very fitting in this space. Wyo wins 44-0 in 2010 (Andy Carpenean - AP)

Will the Rams find revenge? They better. Wyoming saw a couple good, young quarterbacks transfer after living in Laramie for a while, but are not necessarily in a rebuilding year. The Cowboy’s return a handful of returning starters on both sides of the ball. After last year, things like that shouldn’t matter. This one is for pride and a winning season. This one may be for Fairchild’s career. Excuses coming from the head coach will ring hollow if the Rams let the Cowboys keep our Bronze Boot for another year.

So there ya go. I have the Rammies going 7-5 this year, finishing 3-4 in the Mountain West and going bowling, which should allow Fairchild to keep his job for another year. Not making any promises on the whole smiling thing though.