Troy wasnâ€™t built in a day.
Neither was Happy Valley, the Swamp, the Horseshoe or the tradition of the golden domers.
When we think of college football, however, programs like Southern California, Penn State, Florida, Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan and Notre Dame immediately come to mind, and we dismiss the fact it took years of recruiting, winning and putting the right coaches in place to get those schools into the national spotlight.
At the same time, we also tend to forget the sheer mediocrity displayed by some of these schools in recent years.
Notre Dame has been a career hospice for coaches like Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and, potentially, Charlie Weis.
Until Nick Saban, Alabama was really set back by Mike Priceâ€™s â€œstrippergate.â€
And Penn State, well its season seems to be dependent on how Joe Paterno happens to be feeling in the fall. Rarely have we seen consistency from the Nittany Lions over the past decade.
Now, turn your focus to a more local angle and think about Colorado State football. What comes to mind?
For you youngsters and out-of-state folks, itâ€™s likely a lot of memories of â€œblah.â€ Maybe the Ramsâ€™ goalline stand against Utah in 2005 or Gartrell Johnson IIIâ€™s NCAA Bowl record 375 yards from scrimmage in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl, but thatâ€™s likely about it.
Itâ€™s easy to forget CSU has three Mountain West Conference championships in football and, from 1990-2005, went to 10 bowl games.
But thatâ€™s not your fault.
Letâ€™s face it, the only real traditions that resonate from the CSU football program today are the Bronze Boot, the Week 1 game against CU-Boulder and the fact that Hughes Stadium serves beer. There used to be â€œFumâ€™s Song,â€ but the university screwed that one up.
Tradition is built, not just by the football team itself but rather, by the entire community. I think you as a student body is starting to understand that. Home student attendance in 2009 was much stronger than 2008, despite the abysmal 3-9 overall record.
Seriously, following the Week 4 game against Brigham Young, virtually every remaining Saturday of Ramsâ€™ 2009 season followed a formula worse than a Season 2 episode of â€œHouse.â€ CSU would be right there in the thick of things until half way through the third quarter and everything would fall apart.
And with a fan base that is often considered â€œapathetic,â€ seeing a faithful showing on the east side of Hughes Stadium every week from my classmates was refreshing â€“â€“ especially in hard times. Now if only the alumni would start to fill up the west side, then there might be some kind of home field advantage in Fort Collins.
The pieces are starting to fall into place.
Say what you want about 2009, but I still believe Steve Fairchild is the right guy to put the CSU program back on the map. Two consecutive solid recruiting classes and a freshman quarterback in Pete Thomas who looks to finally bring stability under center for the next four years, why shouldnâ€™t there be hope?
A tremendously deep offensive backfield with UCLA transfer Raymond Carter and Highlands Ranch native Chris Nwoke listed as Nos. 1 and 2 on the depth chart, followed by the underrated engine that could, John Mosure: Watch out. Even true freshman Tony Drake, who has been known to run a sub-4.4 second 40-yard dash is expected to see the field.
A group of wide receivers that is immediately made better by the sole fact that the name â€œRashaun Greerâ€ isnâ€™t on roster, and what I firmly believe is the best linebacking corps in the MWC â€” there is no reason 2010 should not be a step forward for CSU football.
But once again, for this football program to reach the place all of Northern Colorado wants it, you have to give a damn.
Iâ€™ve been to the fall practices, I watched the unofficial 7-on-7 scrimmages against the Northern Colorado Bears; this team is working hard and looks a lot better, but it still needs support both at home and on the road.
Will CSU football ever receive the respect of a program like Oklahoma?
Realistically, not. But you have to start somewhere, and becoming a top-notch program requires more than just hard work from the men wearing pads â€“â€“ itâ€™s a community effort.
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at email@example.com.
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