The Colorado football program has been hamstrung when it comes to scheduling.

With nine Pac-12 conference games and a contract with Colorado State which runs through 2020, there isn’t much room to maneuver in finding non-conference opponents.

This fall, the Buffs will face the Rams in Denver (only four more of those games to go!) to open the season. Colorado will then play its home opener against Idaho State from the Big Sky Conference before traveling to Ann Arbor to face a likely ranked opponent in Michigan.

There are problems with all three of those games and how they came to be on the 2016 schedule.

Colorado State —

This one has been beat to death, and doesn’t merit too much additional discussion here.

It is not a secret that Buff fans are not enamored with playing the Rams each year, and almost no one likes playing the game in Denver.

The current contract runs through 2020, with the final game of the series to be played in Ft. Collins. The series will take a break of at least two seasons thereafter, with Colorado having filled it non-conference schedule for 2021 and 2022.

After that … who knows.

There are those in the Buff Nation who insist that, if the series is to be resumed, it must not only be switched back to campus sites, but that Colorado, if it decides to play Colorado State, must only do so on a two-for-one basis, with two games in Boulder for every game played in Ft. Collins.

While I agree with the philosophy on not treating the Rams as an equal, that likely won’t happen.

Schools in other conferences with only eight conference games (SEC, ACC, and, up until this season, the Big Ten) are seeking to add games against Group of Five conference schools in order to not have their non-conference schedules count against them (as much) in playoff considerations.

As a result, Colorado State, which presently has future “one-and-done” away games against Alabama (2017), and Florida (2018), recently added a home-and-home series against Texas Tech from the Big 12. The Rams also picked up a “one-and-done” road trip to Arkansas (2019), but with it came a home-and-home series in men’s basketball.

Colorado already plays Colorado State on a regular basis in basketball, so the latter option of throwing in a basketball series in exchange for more home football games in Boulder is not available to the Buffs in scheduling future games against the Rams.

In all likelihood, any CU/CSU games in the 2020’s will be on a home-and-home basis … unless CU can insist on something like a three-for-two schedule.

As for me, I have no problem continuing the series against the Rams – with two stipulations:

— That the games in Denver come to an end, and that the series returns to campus sites; and

— That the game not be played as the first game of the season. The idea of giving little brother a full month to prepare for their biggest game of the season is asinine. When CU has played CSU in games other than the first game of the season, the Rams have beaten the Buffs exactly once in the past 33 years (9-1 for the Buffs since the series was resumed in 1983, with the only loss coming in the forgettable debut season of Dan Hawkins in 2006).

The Buffs may not be able to avoid a home-and-home with the Rams, but they can surely avoid giving Colorado State the advantage of extra preparation for the game.

— Idaho State —

Until 2006, the University of Colorado was one of the few holdouts remaining in Division 1 football.

Until 2006, the University of Colorado had never played a 1-AA (now FCS) school in football.

That record came to an end (with an ignoble thud) in a 19-10 loss to Montana State from the Big Sky Conference.

Since then, the Buffs have played five more games against FCS schools, compiling a 4-1 record. Colorado lost to Sacramento State in 2012, and has had scares from the likes of Eastern Washington and Central Arkansas.

The Idaho State Vandals from the Big Sky Conference will be the Buffs’ home opener this fall, coming to Boulder on September 10th. Idaho State was 2-9 in 2015, 1-7 in Big Sky play, with the only wins last fall coming against Black Hills State and North Dakota.

In future seasons, Colorado has scheduled games against FCS opponents Northern Colorado (2017) and New Hampshire (2018).

Once again, the Colorado State contract is largely to blame. With nine Pac-12 games and a CSU game locked into the calendar each year, the Buffs have only two openings for non-conference games. In odd-numbered years, the Buffs have only four Pac-12 conference home games. Throw in the non-home CSU game in Denver, and, in order for the Buffs to have six home games, the remaining two non-conference games have to be home games.

Hard to get a Power-Five school to agree to a “one-and-done” in Boulder … especially when the Buffs are not pulling in 50,000 for home games (an average of 46,322 in 2015).

The result?

Home games against schools who believe 46,000 is a large crowd (and a large payday) … that would be FCS schools.

I, for one, don’t mind these games.

The Buffs took down mighty Nicholls State last year, 48-0. While there may have been fewer than 10,000 in the stands at the end of the game, I was one of them, enjoying every moment.

We haven’t had a lot of easy wins in the past decade, and it was fun remembering what it was like to be on the positive side of a blowout victory.

Will there come a time when having such games on the schedule might hurt the Buffs?


This fall, Alabama plays Kent State, Chattanooga, and Western Kentucky … ask Crimson Tide fans if they are worried about how the rest of the planet views their non-conference schedule.

at Michigan

Colorado will receive around $1 million for traveling to Ann Arbor to take on a Wolverine team likely to be ranked in the preseason. For a team looking for six wins and a bowl bid, a “one-and-done” road loss doesn’t seem like a good fit.

Especially since is has only been five years since the last time the Buffs did the same thing.

In 2011, Colorado added a “one-and-done” trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State.

The result? A million dollar paycheck … and a 37-17 loss.

The case can – and perhaps should – be made that Colorado should be beyond taking on such contracts. In 2011, the school was transitioning from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, and was paying for not only the departure from the Big 12 (or, more correctly stated, having revenues withheld in exchange for the release), but also paying off contracts to former coaches. The $1 million payday was seen as a necessary evil.

But now?

Sure, CU can also use more revenues (the Buffs were 50th in the nation in 2014-15; 9th in the Pac-12), but should the football team be a second-class citizen within the ranks of the Power-Five? Shouldn’t CU be a team worthy of a “home-and-home” with every other Power-Five school?

Well, not really.

And that’s not a statement on the Buffs’ ten year losing streak.

Even in CU’s heyday, the Buffs didn’t merit a home-and-home with Michigan.

Recall that in the mid-1990’s – when CU football was at its apex – Colorado and Michigan played three times. Twice in Ann Arbor (1994, 1997) and only once in Boulder (1996).

When you can get 100,000 paying customers for every home game … you get better deals.

The 2016 schedule sets up as a tough one for the CU football program.

Conference road games against USC, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona, coupled with the road trip to Michigan, doesn’t leave the Buffs much room for error in their quest for a bowl bid.

In 2017, the Buffs, after opening with CSU in Denver (for the third-to-last time!), will play Texas State and Northern Colorado at home.

A 3-0 start to the season, with a Pac-12 schedule which will not include games against either Oregon or Stanford, sets up nicely for a team looking for bowl eligibility.

And, safe to say, there won’t be a “home-and-home” against either the Bobcats of Texas State or the Bears of Northern Colorado.

So the Buffs have that going for them … which is nice.



6 Replies to “Home-and-Home”

  1. I don’t like FCS games either, hopefully just a temporary evil due to conference change and down period of program. Non-conference games against good quality Big 5 schools are often one of the highlights of the season. Fun for fans and they often get a national tv audience which is good for program’s reputation. I like the big programs we are scheduling for the future.

  2. The only ’16 road game to truly fear is FURD.

    UO is breaking in many newbies, including new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Helton does not seem like a savior in the Pete Carroll mold at U$C and AZ still has RichRod, whose teams have needed several CU TO’s to beat the Buffs, particularly in Tucson.

  3. I believe that Mike Bohn’s decision making ability was, a lot of the time, hamstrung by both circumstance and the administration above him. But I will never understand the crazy 10 year contract with CSU and the City of Denver for games at Mile High. Never. If you want to schedule a game or two with CSU, fine, schedule CSU, but this ridiculous commitment is yet another example of a CU football decision that is not in the best interest of CU football or their fan base.

  4. These past 5 years have felt like Colorado is an FCS football team. Hopefully lowering season ticket sales in the student section will start packing them in. Remember the good ol days when CU could sell out the Nebraska and Oklahoma games? Never thought I would miss that sea of red. I never really thought of it as a sea of GREEN!

  5. Sorry, but I HATE the FCS games. Just hate them.
    I want CU to prove themselves against the best, not beat up on a team that is limited 60-whatever scholarships. I know BAMA (and to a big degree the entire SEC) gets a pass for that lame, weak, out of conference scheduling. But the Mighty Buffs don’t need to be one of them. Just my opinion, but I resent paying for FCS home games and find they have little value to me as a fan. You only get to be the best by playing the best. If you are any good, then blowing out an FCS opponent is meaningless. As last year’s Nicholls win, and subsequent season, proved.

    And I have to say that I am very excited that we are playing Michigan in The Big House. Even if we don’t win, a strong showing will be a win, imo.

    Finally, cannot agree with you enough that if CU ever does resume the CSU game, that it most definitely should not be the opening game of the season and most certainly needs to come back to each campus.

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