Football Adventures in Colorado

Submitted by lexus larry on October 9th, 2014 at 4:53 PM

A little backgrounder for those of you who don’t know me…former season ticket holder (21 years straight through 2013) who hadn’t attended a game yet this fall, and the outlook to attend any of the remaining three games is close to zero.  During the 21 seasons, missed two games, due to weddings (not MINE!  Close personal friends!)…otherwise, all fandom endurance merit badges applied.  Graduated from the College of Engineering in 1987,had season tickets for 4 of my 5 years of schooling.

(Lexus Larry, Lexus…ummm…Mary, her sister and her brother-in-law)

My wife and I visited her sister in Littleton, CO this past weekend.  Sister-in-law’s hubby went to Colorado State, so we were invited to see the Rams vs Tulsa…and here are my thoughts/observations/experiences below:


ALMOST A MILE HIGH!!!  Depending on the actual point you’re measuring, Ft. Collins is ~5000 feet above sea level, or 95% of a mile high.


Amusingly, the sales lady said that prior to selling beer inside the stadium, people would come in from their tailgates totally smashed, so this action in effect reduced some of the uber-drunkenness, coupled with sales stopping in the third quarter, only one beer per of age buyer, etc.  (Insert beer joke here…wait for applause to die down…the choices were Coors, Coors Light and a different label from Coors, Colorado Native.)


ARTILLERY!!!  Caveats apply to an Ag School in Colorado having a howitzer fire a blank after every TD.  (Did NOT know that in a previous life, CSU, home of the Rams, was an Ag school, and durn proud of it, too.  Saturday was Ag Day, so plenty of people wearing orange attire with large capital “A” on them.)

(Big gun…Howitzer or not)

MARCHING BANDS!!!  The Ram Marching Band playing fight songs in their entirety, with no interruptions, nor with RAWK music laying right on top of any other song, let alone action, at an eardrum shattering 80+ dB.  Whatever/whenever RAWK was played, it wasn’t a continuous loop of  7 Nation Army, and it was mere background noise, not AMP YOU UP deafening.  (No dog groomers moonlighting as hair bands to sing odes to CSU and the Rams.  Must be an east of the Missipp thing.)

WHAT WAS MISSING?  Flyovers, fireworks, weak-ass exhortations to cheer, schlock-ey marketing, etc.  Cheerleaders lead cheers.  Dancing girls danced during song.  Flag girls twirled flags during pre-game and halftime.  (Scroll to the bottom third for the real surprise regarding “7 Super Bowls per season.”)

ADVERTISING!!!  Above being said, there was background advertising…not on the level of J. Ira and Nicki Harris Coach of Footbaw.  Local car dealers, Monsanto, etc.  Smaller scoreboards meant less real estate for advertising.

DEE HART!!!  Hart had a stellar day, 11 carries for 143 yards, 2 TD’s, and one reception for 2 yards…all quibbles about “Mountain West defenses aside” should also carry the caveat of “Mountain West offensive linemen doing his blocking.”  Shifty, dynamic, exciting every time he touched the ball.

POTENTIAL CC CANDIDATE RIGHT HERE!!!  Brian posted on Tuesday about McElwain…he’s got his followers at CSU, watching him pace up and down the sidelines furiously…and getting appropriately improved results for an MWC school.

FREE PROGRAMS!!!!  The glossy 96 page (5” x 9”) program was handed out to everyone who wanted one…sadly, no Punt-Counterpunt to be found within its pages (must be an east of the Missipp thing - lulz).


(Where are Heiko and Nick when you need guidance?)

WHAT’S THAT SILENCE????  No Gaga, no Beyonce, and when music was played via track/not the band, it was at mere background noise levels.  7NA was played once.

Given the size and history of the program, there’s no sense in snarkifying the Ferry Field style scoreboard, or the 90’s era other scoreboard.  They were what they were.


SO, onto the OTHER point here at the end of the story…after a great dinner out in Ft. Collins, a good night’s rest, we rounded up the crew, went to SPORTS AUTHORITY FIELD at MILE HIGH STADIUM to watch the Broncos play the Cardinals.  End zone club seats, as the prices actually went UP on SH during the months leading to the game…but easy access to several different beer/bevvy stands, food (variety and ethnicity) and relief facilities.

GIRL ON A HORSE!!!!  This nice young lady rode up and down the field on her trusty steed during the pregame, and IIRC, after a couple, but not all the touchdown events.

PARATROOPERS!!!!  A team of four specialists dropped in with the game ball, during fairly breezy conditions…couldn’t get a pic…buying $9 beer and mixed drinks.  Kudos for the accurate yet safe landing.

FIREWORKS!!!  The largest HD videoboard had a couple launchers for the 50’ rockets red glare, for the National Anthem and post-TD.  Not impressive, not interesting, just a jolty noise and a little red or white flare.

AND FLAMES!!!!  Don’t forget the flames…a couple flaming Moe’s (or Meaux’s) just outside the fireworks launchers…not notable except for the amazing amount of heat generated by such a brief jet of fire.  (Think Pistons pre-game during the Ben Wallace/lunchbox-going-to-work era.)


WHAT’S THAT ON THE HD VIDEO SCREENS???  Replays of just-run plays, moments after the whistle, many times from 2 different angles?  With more than one player shown?  Who ARE the people operating/choosing the video?

WHAT’S THAT SILENCE????  No 7NA, no Gaga, no Beyonce, (let alone Sweet Caroline or Build Me Up Buttercup) and when music was played, it was at mere background noise levels. Obviously, DB’s “How YOU Can Create the Future” class at Harvard Business School wasn’t provided the same dossier/socio-ethnographics as other AD’s, on the subject of continually bombarding several senses of your paying customers, simultaneously if possible, as abrasively as possible.

AHHH, MEMORIES!!!  Since so many fans of Michigan Football spend many, MANY hours looking back fondly on days of yore, here’s a pic for them…a fan wearing an old jersey of our very own Brian Griese!!

What did both of these games do for me and Lexus Mary?  They showed us that the Michigan Stadium model is something not based on current college or Super Bowl XLVII runner-up gameday experiences.  That selling weddings doesn’t happen everywhere.  That taking in and enjoying the sunny football game afternoon atmosphere, without being shaken down at every turn, with exhortations to increase support the team (or AD) financially does not mean the Colorado counterpart AD or NFL franchise front office is losing out or leaving money on the table.  Both teams won, but CSU had an announced attendance of just over 28k (looked like fewer, given years of knowing the 113k for OSU/MSU is real, and most of the other Michigan Stadium attendance numbers are exaggerations), and Denver had an announced crowd of 76k+…again, plenty of blue club seats pretending to be paying customers.

As a Sprint customer (yeah yeah, I know),

(sometimes it feels like I’m using one of these…)

I am fully aware of their shortcomings.  At Michigan Stadium, all the way up through last season, I didn’t even bother trying to get score updates or send texts.  This weekend, in most areas in CO, we had 3G, 4-5 bars strength…some areas were 4G.  At both stadiums, particularly CSU, no issues texting.  At Mile High it was a different story, what with a claimed 76,000+ fans in the stands.  Was able to post texts/updates on FB, send out SMS texts, but not send pictures out easily.  This was not something that would have made my game/afternoon worse had we not been able to send a few texts or update a few posts on FB…but I’m not telling any of you anything you weren’t already aware of.

CONCLUSION (“TAKEAWAYS,” IN MBA PARLANCE):  Make the gameday experience about the game, the players and all that’s great about college football.  (I know, very Canham of me!)  Don’t turn the event into a continuous 3 hour commercial with momentary interruptions from the football team or MMB.  Both CSU and the Broncos focused on football, on the players and on the game on the field…both presented far less crap (noise, selling, merchandising, schlock, etc.) than we’ve endured the past 4-5 years.  DB has turned our shiny Ferrari into a flaming Fiero (complete with screaming chicken on the hood, and an air scoop over the roof).


EPILOGUE:  It seems when I read Brian or others refer to some of the corny/goofy/lame stunts minor league baseball does to drum-up/keep interest, I read that to mean the NFL, too.  Having been to quite a few Lions games over the past 7-10 years at Ford Field, I’d say the NFL product isn’t heinous…not exactly something I’d follow with my heart, but the gameday experience at Ford Field or Mile High is reasonable (more from a game p.o.v. start-to-finish, rather than early a.m. to late p.m. college game event, but Thanksgiving Day tailgating is an interesting experience).  Which then pains me to think that our Athletic Department has slid right past the NFL model, all the way down past hard-scrabble small school AD’s and straight into the “gotta give ‘em a reason to spend $95 a seat here at Duff Stadium” to watch the Springfield Isotopes Double A baseball.  Whoever is the AD in 10-30 years is going to have a hell of a time selling out Michigan Stadium…the era of season ticket holders absorbing price increases, extra seats, etc. is ending…no matter how many U-M degreed lawyers want to buy extra ducats and charge them back to their office/firm for “client entertainment” purposes.  Today’s U-M student has no bond with the program, with the team, with the event that couldn’t be experienced, nor replicated, anywhere else.  My brother, upon visiting for a game in the late 90s or early aught’s, mentioned he thought U-M football was the New York Yankees of the college football scene…the history, the way “things were done,” the (at that time) decades-long adherence to the colors/styles for the uniforms, the team/school everyone else in the league wanted to be/emulate.  (Yes, Bosox fans want their team to emulate the Yankees, too!)

Hard to imagine that being the case since 2012 or so… 


Ron Utah

October 9th, 2014 at 6:07 PM ^

What did you think of McElwain?  Is he animated at all on the sidelines?  Dude looks just about dead in his press conferences, which last F O R E V E R.


October 9th, 2014 at 7:54 PM ^


Today’s U-M student has no bond with the program, with the team, with the event that couldn’t be experienced, nor replicated, anywhere else.


Exactly this.

This is what annoys me most about this current trend. It's like the disappointment of going to a jazz or blues club and getting a wedding DJ spinning "Sweet Caroline", "Build Me Up Buttercup" et al. and screamed at, "C'MON, CLAP NOW!", "YOU GOTTA LOVE IT!!! YOU GOTTA!!!".

No thanks. It's that whole corporate thing that I want to boycott.

Give me a game and a live band- tight, occasional mistakes and all. Give me silence sometimes- to talk with people near me- or to absorb the sights and sounds of the people and atmosphere around me. Give me a football game. Not another corporate shakedown that we increasingly get everywhere else today in public.



October 9th, 2014 at 10:58 PM ^

Michigan has the best school of music in the Big Ten. Surely we could collaborate with them to improve the gameday music experience! We're better than Sweet Caroline and 7NA!


October 9th, 2014 at 11:02 PM ^

I still think what Brandon is doing on gameday sounds a lot like the Arena Football League.  They don't have any white space.  It's 100% noise all the time.  When it's fourth down for the other team, the scoreboard tells you to make noise, as if you are too stupid to figure it out on your own..  

I remember when it used to be quiet at the Big House except when the band was playing or people were cheering.  You could talk to the people next to you about football.  I am gald I got to go to over 100 games when I did, and I'm glad I left Ann Arbor when I did.  

If I had to put up with what I have been reading about to watch the product on the field the last couple of years, I would be livid.


October 10th, 2014 at 7:51 AM ^

"Whoever is the AD in 10-30 years is going to have a hell of a time selling out Michigan Stadium…the era of season ticket holders absorbing price increases, extra seats, etc. is ending…no matter how many U-M degreed lawyers want to buy extra ducats and charge them back to their office/firm for “client entertainment” purposes.  Today’s U-M student has no bond with the program, with the team, with the event that couldn’t be experienced, nor replicated, anywhere else. "


I get where you're coming from, but I can't help but think that winning will cure that.  After the milder drop-off in the mid 1960's, we didn't have any trouble selling out games in the 80's and 90's.  

If we're winning, the stadium will sell out.

Cranky Dave

October 10th, 2014 at 9:29 AM ^

I'm also partial to the state of Colorado since my best friends live in Boulder and my daughter is a freshman at CU. I'm getting more impressed with McElwain the more I hear about him.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

Good observation about how the Michigan football experience is (was) something that cannot be replicated elsewhere, which is part of where my deep loyalty comes from. I attended every single home game when I was a UM student. Yet, I have been living in Boulder for over a decade and have attended maybe three CU games and two Broncos games. It is (was) not the same.


October 11th, 2014 at 11:38 AM ^

Larry, thanks for the thoughtful comparison. I was at the same CSU - Tulsa game - kid is a freshman at CSU. My kid is spoiled growing up going to an M game or 2 a year, he hardly can drag himself out to see the games at CSU. Looking forward to the big house becoming a special day again soon.


October 13th, 2014 at 1:42 PM ^

I couldn't agree more with the fact that Michigan is going to have the hardest time selling tickets the next decade or so. I have many family friends who are old school Michigan fans and I can now see that those people are dying of and no one is there to replace them. Once the old folks are gone Michigan is in serious trouble from a ticket viewpoint.