The CSU Alumni Association is making it easier for both in-state and out-of-state Ram fans to get together and watch Ram football games on the tube. Check out the Ram Hometown Huddles to find viewing parties for games this year. It’s time to start thinking about your tailgating plans this year.
The Alumni Association-sponsored tailgate for the September 3 season opener at the CU game will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (kickoff is 1:30 p.m.) at the “Business Field” on the CU Campus. Tickets, which cost $25/person, must be purchased by Friday, August 26 by calling 800-286-ALUM or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For those traveling to Minneapolis for the September 10 game vs. Minnesota, the Alumni Association is hosting a Pregame Rally from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (kickoff is 1 p.m.) at The Depot - Soo Line Patio (225 South Third Avenue). The event is free and will feature appetizers and a cash bar. The Alumni Association is requesting RSVPs by September 6 at the same contact information above. For more road-game tailgate information, visit the Alumni Association’s “On the Road With the Rams” page. On a related note, RamNationers Nate and Mark Jeppson, who live in Minneapolis, are hosting a Pig Roast at 6 p.m. the night before the Minnesota game (Friday, September 9). For those interested, please email Mark Jeppson as soon as possible. They also may have foursome openings at a local golf course for Friday.
The CSU athletic department and 96.1 Kiss-FM have partnered to create “Section 96.1” (which is actually in Section 110) in the new north end zone. The section is catered towards younger CSU fans that still prefer to enjoy the atmosphere and excitement of watching Rams football games near the student section. “Section 96.1” is positioned adjacent to the student stands in the northeast corner of Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. Tickets to the section are less expensive than others in the stadium with a reduced season ticket price of $96 for all five home games. (The promotional price ends on September 19. Fans can purchase these tickets at the CSU ticket office at the McGraw Athletic Center or by calling 800-491-RAMS.) Kiss-FM will conduct pregame remote broadcasts near the East Gate at Hughes Stadium each for each gameday.
RamNation.com invited Bradlee Van Pelt, the Denver Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback, to write a season diary recounting his experiences this season in the NFL. He thanked us for our interest, and thanked fans for their support, but said he is trying to concentrate 100 percent on football and is trying to keep his name out of the media as much as possible. He didn’t discount the possibility of doing something with us in the future. He has already been scheduled to do a weekly radio show every Monday morning with Marc Moser and Lou from Littleton on AM 950 the Fan during the season. Chevalier Jewelers, who is soon to become one of RamNation.com’s charter sponsors, has stepped up to sponsor the show.
As part of the new tailgating restrictions at Hughes Stadium this year, all fans who wish to drink alcoholic beverages in the parking lot must first check in at one of the eight planned ID booths around the lots. Fans 21 or older can obtain wristbands there, which will also be good for beer purchases inside the stadium. CSU and law enforcement will be promoting safe tailgating with the slogan “Legal and Responsible”.
The parking lot situation will be a little different in 2005, particularly for pre-paid parking passes by Ram Club members, suite holders, and Rams Horn members. Due to the expansion on the west side, the previous VIP lot has been wiped out. There are now around 90 parking spots near that area that will first go to suite holders. Lot 3 (now being referred to as the Yellow lot) will become the parking area for the Rams Horn ticket holders. Stay tuned for more details.
Ram Club members will have a new benefit to go along with their membership this season. By showing their membership cards (which typically arrive in the mail around the first home game), they can now receive discounts at three local establishments: The CSU Bookstore (15% discount), CB & Potts restaurant (10%), and the Hilton of Fort Collins (10%).
This is the final college football season before the new BCS changes are implemented, where the BCS will weigh the performance of a conference as a whole besides its champion when determining who gets an automatic bid. So, like when Utah went 11-0 to earn an at-large invitation to the Fiesta Bowl last year, it's probably unbeaten or bust for the MWC champion as far earning another BCS bowl invitation this year. MWC commissioner Craig Thompson believes the league has too much parity for that to happen again. "I think we're going to have tri-champions at 9-2 or 8-3," Thompson recently told the Associated Press. "I think it's that balanced. That's a little unfortunate, and where we need to get with our league is that that 9-2 still gets an automatic, like everyone else's automatic. They can get in at 9-2, 8-3, but we have to be 11-0. That's what we're trying to change."
Meanwhile, the MWC recently announced two new bowl changes, adding the Fort Worth Bowl in 2006 and working a deal with the Las Vegas Bowl to become the league’s No. 1 bowl game in 2006. However, Thompson reiterated, "Our primary goal is to break into the BCS. The best thing we can do to achieve that is continue to field successful teams and provide strong ticket sales. It's tough when we average 5,000 to 6,000 fans when older conferences draw 16,000 fans. But we're a young league, and we're making progress. I'm confident we will be in a position to eventually join the BCS.”
When the old Southwestern Conference (SWC) dissolved a decade ago, MWC newcomer TCU (along with SMU, Houston, and Rice), was snubbed by the Big 8, which instead chose Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor. Many people, including most TCU fans, believe the Big 8 made a mistake by not inviting TCU instead of Baylor. However, in hindsight, the snub may have been the best thing for TCU, which had previously been a small fish in a big pond. As part of the SWC, the Horned Frogs had just one co-championship and five winning seasons in the SWC's final 30 years. But, after stints with the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA since then, TCU has built itself into a mid-level power, having played in six bowl games over the past seven years and winning 10 games in three of the last five. Former TCU athletic director Eric Hyman (now at South Carolina) recently told the Associated Press, “If TCU had stayed, I don't think TCU would ever have had the success we had." TCU joined the MWC this year--its fourth conference in 10 years.
ESPN.com recently placed CU Buffs coach Gary Barnett at the top of its list of coaches on the hot seat this season. With his job in limbo last year, Barnett guided the Buffs to a Big 12 North championship, his second in the past three years. He still hasn't led the Buffs to three consecutive winning seasons, however. Meanwhile, after Friday’s workouts, which marked the end of two-a-days, Barnett told the Boulder Daily Camera "This team is getting better. I'm pretty pleased. We've got 10-11 practices left, but I'm satisfied with where we are."
What’s the key to CSU beating CU? Believe it or not, the answer may lie in special teams. CSU will have to overcome the Buffs’ significant advantage over two previously untested kickers and punters. For the Buffs, their strength is in the kicking/punting game, and it showed vs. CSU last year. In the 2004 game, Buffaloes place kicker Mason Crosby kicked two field goals, including a 55-yarder in the fourth quarter. Punter John Torp punted three times for an average of 52.3 yards, including two kicks that pinned the Rams inside their own 20-yard line. The Rams will be trotting out a first-time field goal kicker in senior Kevin Mark and a sophomore punter in Jim Kaylor.
If you are itching for some football, the CSU Insider on Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain kicks off with a 2005 football preview show airing Monday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. The show will analyze the 2005 Rams, and give an overview of the nine-team Mountain West Conference. It will also preview CSU's season opener Sept. 3 at Colorado. In addition, for those of you in Fort Collins, CSU’s student-run Campus Television (CTV) will host its own CSU football preview on its weekly Sportsfest program at the exact same time. Sportsfest will also preview the 2005 football team, and will feature an on-camera analysis from Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Tony Phifer.
Speaking of CTV, the station has switched from channel 25 to channel 11 in Fort Collins. CTV has two weekly 30-minute sports programs: Sportsfest (on Monday nights), a sports news show that covers the full spectrum of CSU athletics, and Full Court Press (on Wednesday nights), a commentary show with members of the student media. Channel 11 runs weeknights from 8 a.m. to midnight during the school year. CTV’s website is www.ctv11.com
CSU head coach Sonny Lubick will once again join Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain for his weekly coaches show with host Keith Bleyer. The “CSU Insider” show, beginning September 1, will recap each week’s game and preview the following week throughout the 2005 season. The CSU Insider will air every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. MST (time may change due to live events such as Rockies games) and it will also re-air every Saturday morning at 9:30 am.