The glory days of CSU athletics look like a thing of the past. Mountain West championships and postseason success have lately been hard to come by.
It wasn’t too long ago that I witnessed my beloved Rams go 10-3 during the regular season football schedule and advance to the Liberty Bowl. That same year, the men’s basketball team reached the NCAA tournament and played Duke in the first round.
In fact, my first year at CSU reinforced my decision to attend a university with above average Division I athletics.
But now, I’m not sure what to think. I see a program that I treasure, now above any other in the college ranks, showing few signs of an upswing. It hurts.
So since we are currently without an athletic director, here are a few ideas for consideration:
While many people believe that money is the source of all problems, I doubt it. Pride is the basis of every successful athletic department. Boosters, alumni, Fort Collins residents all must unite. Pride in an athletic program can go a long way because pride can equate to money. Ram pride, in my experience, is sub-par. The students are OK, but clearly fair-weather fans. Men’s basketball games this year were a perfect example. When the team started 11-2, Moby Arena was a great place to be. As soon as conference play picked up, the crowd was cheering louder for the halftime show than the game.
Do you think Kansas’ Phog Allen Field House had an empty seat when the Jayhawks started 3-4? Not a chance. Whether you attend CSU or once attended or if you just live in the Fort Collins community, show a little pride.
So, at this point, the stadiums are full, the crowd is excited. The next thing we need to do is win. CSU teams recruit really well in most sports. But at each game, I see CSU at a disadvantage before the start. We consistently get out-coached. Hiring some well-established coaches would certainly bring notoriety and money to a struggling program. While initially shelling out the big bucks may seem like a hard investment, the returns would be tremendous. Say, for example, you bring in Bob Huggins to coach the men’s basketball team. Moby would sell out every game, season tickets would fly out of the box offices and I could see a few MWC championships and postseason appearances in the near future, even if it’s just the NIT.
Now we’ve got athletes, money, coaches and spirit. There are a few housekeeping matters left, however – all of which are realistic.
No. 1: Move the student section in Moby Arena to one side of the court. I’m sure most students (at the least the ones interested in going to games) wouldn’t mind paying an extra $5 to sit courtside. Most of the successful basketball programs have a similar setup. The students deserve better accommodations; it’s our school, our team.
No. 2: Sell beer at all sports events. Beer sales are obviously very profitable; why else would they have brought back beer to Hughes Stadium?
No. 3: Have housing services work the concessions at games. Our profit margin would increase drastically. Right now, we hire outside services to work the games.
Regardless of what happens, I really just hope that the athletics at CSU stops its downward spiral. I want to graduate from this institution and forever be proud to be a CSU Ram.