Ohio State vs. Michigan? Alabama vs. Auburn? Those rivalries have nothing on Colorado State vs. Northern Colorado. Well, that's just hyperbole. OK, that's probably just flat-out wrong, but this is really just a story about beer.
College football is driven by its rivalries. Well, rivalries and sweet cash but we'll look the other way on that for the time being (and why not? The NCAA does-ZING!). The hatred between Michigan and Ohio State runs deep. The tensions between Oklahoma and Texas can be felt across the country when those teams meet. And let us not forget the biggest college football rivalry of the past 10 years: the one between the BCS and any rational human being.
But there was one rivalry that lay dormant for many years and was just now renewed: Colorado State vs. Northern Colorado. Many people will say CU vs. CSU is the bigger in-state rivalry, but having attended a few Rocky Mountain Showdowns over the years I can say the more memorable fights at those games are between the winning team's fans and the cops.
The last time CSU and UNC met was in 1986. There is not a whole lot of information about this game to be found online, but I am assuming the reason they haven't played for so many years is most likely due to some mass rioting or something. Well the newest chapter in this storied conflict was going to go one step further: it would divide my very family. My wife Amy, my brother Chris and I all went to CSU. My other brother Dave and two sisters-in-law, Carol and Tonja, went to UNC. I knew that after this game the way we viewed each other would never be quite the same.
As game day approached I called my brother/ally Chris to discuss our impending domination.
"So are you all ready for the game?" I asked.
"Eh, no, I can't make it."
"Well, why the hell not?"
"Have to watch the girls. Carol will be out of town for work."
Well, at least if I had to lose one compatriot I was losing one foe as well. It would still be two on two in the rooting war. A few days later my brother Dave and I were discussing our trip up to Fort Collins while we were still on speaking terms.
"What time should we head up?" I knew this would be one of the last civil conversations we ever had.
"Oh, it doesn't matter, Tonja's not going."
"She's taking the boys to the children's museum."
Actually I decided this was a fortuitous turn. Now the numbers would be tipped in the CSU supporters' favor, 2-1. I told my wife the good news.
"Oh, well I wasn't going to go to the game, but can I ride up to Fort Collins with you? I wanted to have lunch with a friend."
This was just a kick in the shins. Here we were heading into the drop-everything-it's-time-to-rumble game of the century and people were falling out left and right. I was wondering why anyone would choose not to attend the matchup of the early part of the second decade of the century for such trivialities as children and friends. I came to one logical conclusion: fear. They were afraid of the blood that was sure to be shed when this war started.
So it was only two of us, Dave and I, that headed into Hughes Stadium. Now I loved my time at CSU and I like Fort Collins a lot. But as far as aesthetics go, Hughes can only be described as kind of ... basic. If I were to write the Wikipedia entry for Hughes Stadium it would probably be this: "Hughes Stadium is a football stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado. The field is laid out and marked according to the rules of American Football. There are seating areas where spectators may watch the game. Also, there is a scoreboard that keeps track of how many points are scored. That's pretty much it."
This game fell on Ag Day where CSU celebrates its history as the Colorado A&M Aggies and encourages everyone to wear their orange ‘A' shirt for the "orange-out." As it turned out, no one had an orange ‘A' shirt, so CSU sold a boatload of ‘em the week before for $15 a pop. I think the solution to America's debt problems lies somewhere in here. If we could somehow convince everyone that we were going to do a blue-out and everyone needed to buy a blue shirt and "Oh, well you can wear a blue shirt you already have, but it won't be exactly the same as everyone else's and it will be a slightly different shade and you're gonna look like a total goon. Just pony up the $15 bucks for a better America already." Hellooooo, prosperity!
Anyway, am I alone in thinking that these _____-outs at sporting events are getting a little old? The first I really remember of it was in the NHL when Winnipeg-now-Phoenix did it in the playoffs, but y'all can tell me if you know of it occurring earlier? Now everyone has a yellow-out or red-out and it's no longer unique. Mainly it just smacks of the local t-shirt vendor working with the local sports concern to move some overstocked product. Plus they don't even make sense any more. An orange-out? That's not even a thing.
A white-out is a thing. It happens when blizzard conditions get so bad with wind and driving snow that you can't see anything. It is disorienting and confusing.
An orange-out is just a made up thing. It maybe would happen if orange trees just suddenly went nuts and burst forth so much fruit that no one could move. It would be delicious.
Well, apparently whatever effect the organizers were going for, they were on to something. This game was never in doubt. The CSU Rams took it right to the Bears and scored at will in the first half. Dave was clearly getting upset and in a mood to get drunk. Luckily for him, Hughes Stadium is one of the few venues in college sports that allow beer sales. But they do it in a very rigid and bureaucratic fashion. First, he went to the beer line and when he got to the front they asked where his wristband was. Turns out, you have to stand in a different line to get your ID checked and a wristband to indicate you're of legal drinking age. Then, once banded, he went back to the beer line and when he got to the front he found out they don't take debit cards. Why he didn't find this out the first time through the line, I'll never know, but he is a UNC grad. So he had to go stand in the ATM line but the ATM wasn't working. So that line took a long time and he ended up missing the bulk of the second quarter. I went up to meet him and he got his cash just as halftime was ending. We headed back to the beer line to find out that alcohol sales ended at the end of halftime. (OK, beer folks, I'm putting this one on you. Maybe a couple signs explaining some of this crap would be in order.)
The second half was better for the Bears, they scored a couple of touchdowns and their band was much better at playing that "boom, boom, boom, let me hear you say, "way-oh" song than the CSU band was (alright, not positive that was the song but they both played the same dance song that sounded like all the other dance songs. I figured that was a safe guess). Still, UNC never got back into the game and CSU won handily. But I could not really bring myself to rub it in. I felt bad for my brother, with his team down by so much and no beer to drown his sorrows, I decided to take him to one of my old haunts and we would try to mend our relationship over a couple of Fort Collins' finest beers.
As we sat there, I decided that family was indeed more important than this football rivalry. I could no longer hate UNC. Northern Colorado has produced some great people. Just none that is any good at football. We drove home in a good mood, me basking in the glow of a glorious victory, my brother basking in the glow of me basking in the glow of a glorious victory. I dropped him off at his house and he shook my hand and asked me a question that made me think of how much I needed to head back to Fort Collins as soon as possible:
"Hey, wasn't your wife with us when we drove up?"