REASON 1: APPIES VS. ROCKIES -- For millions of years, the Rockies and Appalachians have stared across the country as two colossal rivals thirsting for the blood and defeat of the other, but never willing to cast the first stone. Luckily, ESPN stepped in to make it happen. The Rockies, relative newcomers to the North American plate after their orogeny began some 170 million years ago, seem to have the upper hand on paper with their more chiseled ridges compared to the green hills of the mountains back East. Though the mile-high physique of the Rockies will give them a physical advantage, you can never underestimate the craftiness of an old-timer like the Appalachians. Approximately 200 million years the senior to their Western rival, the Apps have been around the block a time or two and lived to tell about it. Plus, the Appalachian Mountains have a much better football team representing them.
REASON 2: THE BREAK-UP AND REBOUND -- You remember that friend you had in high school that couldn't work things out with their significant other, so they just decided it would be best to go their separate ways? This is kind of like that. North Carolina felt for whatever reason that both it and Colorado would be better off seeing other people. Maryland's demand to take a break for two years probably went a little something like this:
Maryland: "Hey! DubVee! What's happenin?"
WVU: "Mary! Wassssuuuup! I can't wait to come see you next fall! Hey, we're still on for '08 and '09, right?"
Maryland: "Ummm...well, that's why I was calling. Something suddenly came up.
Maryland: "Yeah...I know. California is coming to town, and I really want to hang out with him. Wow, this is totally awkward..."
WVU: "California?!? We look exactly the same! I mean, people think I'm Cali and people think Cali is me! What does Cali have that I don't have?"
Maryland: "Look, I don't want to get into it but Cali is just...different. I mean, you and me we just don't have a lot in common anymore. You're winning, we're losing. You're in the Top 25, we're not. I'm just looking for something new, you know? If you want we can still hang out in '10 and '11 since I already promised you we would."
WVU (dejected, but seething with revenge): "Yeah, we'll see. Maybe, maybe not. I mean, you guys dumped Slaton and that turned out pretty well for you, huh?"
WVU: "Listen I gotta go. The BCS is on the other line. You…keep on truckin'. hangs up
With uncertainty in the air for both WVU and CU, ESPN decided to play matchmaker. On the surface it looks like nothing more than a one night stand, but everyone involved in the whole scenario is probably better off, at least in the short term. I mean, it could be a lot worse than Colorado, right? Continuing with the dating analogy, the Buffs are like a girl who used to be pretty hot and still doesn't look bad, but has gotten way to into the Mary Kay thing and is kind of a shell of her former self. The good news is that there's still plenty of time for her to reclaim her natural beauty before the date. OK, that's enough about dating. If you haven't canceled your BlueGoldNews.com account or sent me a threatening email yet, then keep reading.
REASON 3: HALFTIME SHOW -- I can't take credit for this one. David Plati, Colorado's assistant AD for media relations put the idea in my head. During our conversation yesterday, Plati brought up the fact that folk singer John Denver scored two of his biggest hits with "Country Roads" (about West Virginia) and "Rocky Mountain High" (about Colorado).
"No matter how the game goes, we know that the halftime show will be great," Plati quipped.
I'm calling it right now: a combined marching band from both schools playing a 30-minute medley of Denver's greatest hits from the two mentioned above to "Grandma's Featherbed". Even better, it gets to happen two years in a row.
REASON 4: A FRONTIER BATTLE -- Dueling mascots are always cute. I mean, who doesn't love it when Sebastian the Ibis and Hokie Bird pretend to spar before one of the mascots (almost always the visitor) takes a dive? The only problem I have with that is this: it's nowhere near realistic. Why would a tropical bird (wearing a sailor's cap for that matter) have any interest in pestering a castrated turkey? I mean, it's cute, but it would never happen.
On the other hand, a LIVE buffalo and a LIVE mountaineer (holding a musket, which sure beats the hell out of a sailor's cap) has potential for one of the greatest mascot battles of all time. OK, so maybe Ralphie IV (Colorado's current live buffalo mascot) won't be taking part. But at the very least, when the pretend buffalo and Mountaineer are dueling, it will look like something that actually could have happened at one point in time. It's also realistic because neither competitor could possibly tank the fight. If the buffalo wins, it's because he's an aggressive animal defending his natural habitat against an intruder. If the Mountaineer wins, it's because he has a rifle and needs food.
REASON 5: IT'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT -- Don't get me wrong here. I have nothing against going to College Park (except for the ungodly traffic on the beltway no matter what time you're there). Heading out to Folsom Field, though, will be something different. No, it's not a treasured haven of college football like Notre Dame Stadium, The Swamp, or Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, but it is a very recognizable college football setting with more than 80 years of solid tradition. Actually, if you think about it, it's pretty similar to West Virginia in that regard. That's to say that it's not one of the top destinations of places you must go as a college football fan, but it's better than just about everywhere else.
Plus, they filmed part of the opening credits for "Mork and Mindy" there. You definitely can't get that in College Park!
REASON 6: ROAD TRIP! -- What a perfect setup for students in Morgantown thirsting (literally, as you'll see) for the road trip of their lives. They can ditch a day or two of classes (not that I would ever condone such a thing…especially just to watch a football game!), hop in the car with some buddies, split the driving four ways through the night (or two nights most likely), stop off in St. Louis after the first night for a tour of the Anheuser-Busch farms, get up the next day and drive to Colorado for the game, and then make the 30 minute drive to the original Coors brewery in Golden. While you're in Boulder, meet some CU students who will take you in for the night with the promise that you will do the same on their road trip to Morgantown in 2009. Costs are obviously a detriment to such an excursion, but can you really put a price on memories that will last a lifetime? No freakin' way!
For the BGN crew, we could rent an RV. It would sort of be like the Madden Cruiser, only BlueGoldNews style. I set off a preemptive strike last December when the possibility arose of going to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tx. I can't think of a better bonding experience for our staff than to cram into a big vessel for a week and see the heartbeat of America just outside the window. Sure, it would be costly, but I think if we raised subscription costs by about 20 bucks a month, we could pull it off. (Kidding, of course).
In all likelihood, we'll probably have to fly. In fact, if I know Kevin Kinder, he's already looking online for good deals on flights, even though there's a good chance that the plane we would be flying hasn't even been built yet. If nothing else, I've planted the seed in the minds of my superiors. I've got 16 months to plead my case for an RV trip.
REASON 7: IT'S DIVISION I FOOTBALL! IT'S THE BIG XII! -- C'mon! You didn't think I was going to get through a 1,700 word column and not bring to light the infamous rant of Buffs' head coach Dan Hawkins, did you? If you haven't seen or heard the rant, just go to YouTube and type in "Dan Hawkins rant".
After seeing that rant, how can you not want to interview that guy? You don't know what might set him off. The interview could go on without incident and then BOOM! Or, it could just go on without incident. If that happens, the worst you can say is "He's a nice guy."
We always talk about and hear about "potential" with athletes. Well, as an interview, Hawkins has potential. Plenty of it. It's like watching a freshman running back run for 100-plus yards and a touchdown in mop-up duty; you've seen a glimpse of what he's capable of. You're not sure if he can do that every game, but you know he can do it at some point. (I've always felt that Rutgers boss Greg Schiano also has this potential, FWIW).
More importantly, the guy can flat out coach. As you may know, Hawkins built the Boise State program that went 13-0 last season, and is regarded highly by his peers an offensive genius (kind of like Rich Rodriguez, only more Western, if you will).
If Colorado's offense begins to pile up the points and yards like his teams at Boise did, then it could be quite the entertaining affair in 2008 and 2009. You know, one of those games with 100 combined points and 1,000 combined yards of total offense that everyone loves to watch. Heck, with Hawkins and Coach Rod on opposing sidelines, who knows what kind of trick plays we could be in store for? Maybe they'll collaborate on a play in which all 22 players on the field touch the football. With those two guys in the same stadium, anything is possible.
Honestly, this beats the heck out of settling for another I-AA school or being left at the altar again by a MAC school. By the time they meet the Mountaineers, the Buffalos could be on their way back to the top of the Big XII. It's a new face, but a face with respected tradition. It's still 16 months away, but I'm already excited for this series.