Not all stories have a happy ending.
After losing their seventh consecutive game to San Diego State Saturday, the collegiate careers of 11 CSU seniors can now be added to that list.
The final loss was a microcosm of the Rams’ (4-8, 1-7) forgettable 2006 season. The defense turned in a solid effort to limit its opponent to less than 300 total yards and fewer than 20 points while the offense looked helpless in failing to reach the end zone for the fourth game this year.
For most of this group of seniors, the realization of never suiting up in green and gold again had yet to surface within the first hour after the 17-6 loss.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” said senior wide receiver Dustin Osborn in an emotional CSU locker room. “It probably won’t hit me until later tonight when I’m lying in my bed.”
Senior linebacker Luke Adkins said grasping the reality of playing his last college football game may not happen until next semester.
From hugs followed by sincere wishes of good fortune to a group of offensive linemen posing for a picture, it was obvious the scene in the visiting locker of Qualcomm Stadium Saturday night was about more than just the conclusion of a disappointing football season.
And not surprisingly, it was a number of seniors who were the last to leave that locker room, perhaps soaking in every last minute of college football as possible.
Despite the loss, the seniors still managed one last rendition of the school’s fight song – thanks in large part to Osborn.
“I wanted to sing that song one last time whether we lost by a hundred points or won by a hundred,” Osborn said.
Senior offensive lineman Clint Oldenberg, who started 34 games as a Ram, wished the fight song could have been used in a more traditional way.
“It was a nice thought,” Oldenberg said. “It was kind of bittersweet because I’m used to saying that after a win.”
Fair or not, this group of seniors lost more games than they won.
But something should be said about those that actually made it this far.
Of the 11 who were still listed on CSU’s active roster, three were unable to suit up for their final game: Ben Stratton, Nnamdi Ohaeri and Brandon Cathy – all out with injuries.
Far more never even made it past spring practices.
Academics, injuries, criminal charges and a number of other personal reasons forced more than a few players to cut their time in the CSU football program short.
“The thing I’ll remember most about (the senior class) is somehow everybody managed to leave or get kicked off,” said Adkins, who at one point was close to leaving because of academics himself.
Oldenburg, like many of his fellow classmen, said he will cherish the time spent with Head Coach Sonny Lubick.
Lubick, who will have already started recruiting for next year by Monday, wished he could have sent this group off on a better note.
“These seniors worked really hard and unfortunately had a really tough year,” he said.
Football beat writer Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.