There's a suggestion currently being floated by Denver media members; Colorado State should drop down to Division-II.
That's simply silly. Senseless, even.
Yes, the Rams have opened this season 0-2, losing to their intrastate rivals the Colorado Buffaloes and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Oklahoma, but they did lead in the fourth quarter of both of those games.
Sure, they've won a mere 13 games over the last four seasons, but the CSU football program seems to be improving, even if the results aren't yet tangibly seen in the win-loss columns.
Things are bad in Fort Collins football-wise, but they're not that bad.
In reality, this is a wonderful time to live in Fort Collins. There's a new rapid transit bus line going in, as well as a new mall and Colorado State's campus is ever evolving; the one negative about the university is it's poor performing football team.
But are the Rams really bad enough to make the move from the FBS down to the FCS?
Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post and Rick Lewis of 103.5 The Fox – twitter comrades and media mentors to me personally – both suggested just a move before and after CSU's heartbreaking 30-27 loss to Tulsa.
"@RichKurtzman Yes. But that's gonna happen. And I get how it irritates many who love CSU. Build the 50k stadium. Or go to Div 1AA,” Kiszla tweeted me Saturday morning after I asked if he thought paying college football players would create more of an imbalance. “@RichKurtzman And yes, I know Div 1AA is FCS. I had kid who attended school that won FCS national title. And would've beaten CSU that yr,” he continued.
After the game Lewis said, “@RichKurtzman looks like another long year for CSU football fans, would you rather play in Big Sky and have a shot at 6-10 win seasons?” He continued, “CSU would be a great fit in the Big Sky in every way, stadium size, talent, geographically, would be more fun for fans,” and concluded, “they had a nice run under Lubick but most of their football history has been a down point.”
Therein lies the problem.
While CU went through arguably their worst season ever last year at 1-11, no one said the Buffs should move down to the FCS. But we must be reminded of their National Championship – in 1990 on the famed fifth down – and the fact that they play in the Pac-12 rather than the measly Mountain West.
Colorado State's football playing dates back to the late 1890s and their best days were in the mid to late 90s under Sonny Lubick. While they won some mid-level bowls, they never came close to winning it all.
CU is allowed some leeway by the Denver media, CSU is not.
But maybe the people in the big city forgot what is happening in our rural little cow town.
When Jack Graham took over as the Director of Athletics, he basically staged a coup, convincing President Tony Frank that Graham had all the answers.
In fact, the “should we drop down to D-II” discussion could have even occurred during Graham and Frank's eight days of meetings; Captain Jack pledged to right the sinking CSU ship.
Graham kicked off the “Bold New Era” in December of 2011, envisioning an athletics program that meets the same standards of excellence the academics side of Colorado State represents.
He immediately changed the rules, allowing him to hire Jim McElwain and pay him a base salary of $1.35 million per year, which is certainly competitive with other big-time college football programs. He's done many more things to revamp Rams athletics; the new Ram Zone opened in Old Town as a place for people to buy gear, he added new pregame festivities, he added Women's Soccer, he made the switch from Russell Athletic to Under Armor and also hired both Larry Eustachy and Ryun Williams as basketball coaches.
Those not connected to the university or its athletics have missed the memo, they haven't seen all the good that's gone on over the last year and a half in Fort Fun.
But what Graham will ultimately be remembered for is his on-campus football stadium that will bring Colorado State into the 21st century in many aspects.
Of course, as of now, it's still only a proposed construction, but anyone around the program knows it will be built, and likely ready for Graham's 2016 kickoff date.
This on-campus stadium is Graham's legacy; the former Rams' quarterback and self-made multi-billionaire understands the importance of erecting the massive structure.
It will ensure football's future at Colorado State, on the always improving campus, which can be used as a recruiting tool in its own way. The new on-campus stadium will bring more money to athletics as a whole – as well as the university, as it helps attract out-of-state students – and it may mean a move from the Mountain West up to a more prestigious conference.
Colorado State football is at a crossroads – or at least they were back in the end of 2011 – and they're not going backwards, but moving forward.
CSU move down to D-II? Not now, not ever.
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