Late last week I finally received one of my favorite Sports Illustrated issues of the year, the college football preview.
In the center ran a feature on the 10 best college game day atmospheres around the country, and it got me thinking.
Texas A&M, LSU, Nebraska and Washington were a few of the featured game days, and they all have something in common.
The obvious answer is money, a higher caliber of player than CSU and a history of success. But thatâ€™s not what Iâ€™m thinking of.
Iâ€™m talking about tradition.
All of those schools have a rich and storied past, whether the team is good, bad or ugly. Their fans have a sense of identity that bonds them beyond the results on the field of play.
Texas A&M has the 12th Man and organized cheers (literally, they practice the night before games each week). LSU has a live tiger placed right in front of its opponents, not to mention a crowd so loud they tip needles on local seismographs.
â€œIâ€™m proud to be a CSU Ram.â€
What does this statement even mean to our sports community?
I go to football games and look on at a half-empty stadium, the lackluster fans half-heartedly cheering, if they cheer at all, with the exception of the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
It takes nationally ranked teams such as Brigham Young and San Diego State to sell out Moby Arena, a venue that has the potential to rival â€œThe Pitâ€ down in New Mexico if people actually came every week.
Some would blame it on the fact football has endured a decade-long drought without relativity, and basketball, until last year, hasnâ€™t had much more success.
That argument holds no weight with me because pride in our teams shouldnâ€™t be dependent on how many games they win. It hasnâ€™t affected Washington. Granted, they have more achievements as a program, but itâ€™s not as if theyâ€™ve been contenders for PAC-10 championships and making bowl games every season.
We have nothing here at CSU where we as fans can find common ground and just enjoy the thrill of college sports.
We used to have the Fum McGraw song between the third and fourth quarters of football games, but that was taken from us. There is the cannon that gets shot off after every score; however, it seems to catch more people by surprise than drive them into a crazed frenzy of noise.
Maybe Iâ€™ve been a little harsh, itâ€™s not as if the athletic department hasnâ€™t made efforts to increase the atmosphere surrounding the program.
CSU has made steps in the right direction making additions to Hughes Stadium this year, making it a friendlier environment for fans to come out and support the team.
On the west concourse of the stadium, poster-sized pictures highlighting the Ramsâ€™ bowl games were placed on the stadiumâ€™s support pillars, a friendly reminder of where CSU once was and where they could return.
They also re-landscaped around the south end zone entrance to enhance the ambiance around Hughesâ€™ unique location.
Ag-Day has been another terrific way to give the fans a rallying point and a chance to celebrate the things that make us all â€œproud to be a CSU Ram.â€ Its popularity is an indicator that we all crave a feeling of tradition.
Volleyball and basketball also implemented â€œwhite-outsâ€ for games against major opponents last year, which translated into crowds way above the norm.
In the end it still all comes down to us, the fans, to establish something special, unique to us â€” something other schools and fans can point to as the identity of CSU.
I want to be able to tell fans of Auburn and Oregon that Iâ€™m a CSU Rams fan without them laughing at me or, even worse, asking who CSU is (seriously, that happened to me.)
This is my request to you, please come out and support all our sports. College sports are single handedly the greatest way to express yourself as a fan.
One day I want to pick up my issue of Sports Illustrated and find CSU listed as a must-go college game day.
_Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com.