Battle of Wits

Sep 012004
Authors: Andrew Woerpel

This year’s rivalry game between CSU and University of Colorado-Boulder will mark the fifth time Ram Head Coach Sonny Lubick has squared off against Buffalo Head Coach Gary Barnett. Both coaches not only have had long successful careers, building legacies at their respective schools, but they also have illustrious pasts as well.

Lubick came to CSU after winning a national championship with the Miami Hurricanes as their defensive coordinator. Since then, CSU has gone 91-44 under Lubick’s guidance. Lubick has led the Rams to six conference titles, three of which were in the Mountain West Conference and three of which were in the Western Athletic Conference. He has coached CSU to eight bowl appearances and 10 consecutive winning seasons in his 11 seasons as head coach. He is the all-time winning coach in CSU history.

“CSU has a good football program,” Lubick said. “There are good football players and good kids and it is fun to coach.”

Above all of his coaching credentials, Lubick’s personality is what pushes him over the top. In 2003, Lubick was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Award for his community service efforts. He is described as a genuine person who cares about everyone from his family to the community to his coaching staff and players.

“Coach Lubick still has a youth about the game, which is exciting, and I think whenever you can have a youth, I know I do, it allows your passion to spill out onto the field,” said Marcus Houston a senior running back. “Our coaching staff still plays the game with youth. They still coach with youth.”

Standing on the opposing sideline at Saturday’s game will be Barnett, who came to Colorado in 1999 after an amazing stint with Northwestern as its head coach. Barnett led Northwestern to back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 1995 and 1996. When the Colorado job opened up, Barnett couldn’t resist. He had been an assistant in Colorado from 1984 to 1991 under then Head Coach Bill McCartney.

Since Barnett has been at CU he has led them to a mark of 34-28. His best year was the 2001 season when the Buffaloes surprised everyone and won the Big 12 Championship. Off the field, Barnett is active with many charities including the Lupus Foundation and the Colorado ALS Association. Every year he participates in Boulder’s “Walk to d’feet ALS,” an event that rasises money to help fight Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Having played for both Barnett and Lubick, Houston has noticed two similarities between the coaches.

“Both are two people who love football,” Houston said. “They love winning.”

The players are very excited about the upcoming Rocky Mountain Showdown, but also disappointed that it is in Boulder. This year, and for the next three years, the game will be held at Folsom Field in Boulder.

“I’d rather have the CU game in Invesco, but we’re going to their house and it doesn’t feel like a road game,” said Justin Holland a senior quarterback. “Every year we beat CU, we have a good season.”

Regardless of Gary Barnett and Sonny Lubick’s individual accolades on the field and off, both are considered two of the greatest coaches in the nation. In head-to-head competition, Lubick has the 3-2 advantage and will look to chalk up one more victory Saturday.

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