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November 23, 2020


On Monday, CU's Karl Dorrell and CSU's Steve Addazio were 65 miles apart, speaking in Zoom calls with media members and discussing the frustration and the possible impact of having their respective Saturday games canceled last weekend. Of course, they both essentially said that's history, and it's time to move on. Even in a college football world in which nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. 


Of course, as I noted last week, the obvious solution was for the Buffs and Rams to meet in a hastily arranged, but extremely viable, reinstatement of the Rocky Mountain Showdown -- wherever it had to be.

But even after the Pac-12 late in the week backed off its prohibition against non-conference games -- with some significant stipulations -- it didn't happen. Yes, the Pac-12's modified mandates included that the non-conference game has to be at the Pac-12 site, and be televised by one of the Pac-12's broadcast partners. But after a fall in which flexibility and adaptation have been absolutely necessary, is anything written in ink?


It all should be outlined with a Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil -- with a fresh eraser.


Plus, even with no more cancellations, it's obvious the importance of single games is and will be magnified. If CU does get into the December 19 Pac-12 championhip game, the Buffs will have played no more than five games to get there.          


I asked Dorrell if he wished the Buffs had been able to face their in-state rivals. That wouldn't have had any impact on the Pac-12 standings, of course, but it would have given the Buffs (and Rams) a game and provided a slight upbeat Saturday -- tightly between the sidelines and on television -- for college football in the state.   


"That still lies as an option down the road, because there's many more games to be played," Dorrell said. "I haven't really thought that much into it ... There were a couple of opponents actually that were reaching out, that had some interest in playing last week. We just didn't know how to move forward with that. Now that we have those things in place, we'll evaluate each one as it comes. There might be an oppporunity later in the season. We'll see. It does look like COVID is all over, right? You're seeeing it hit everywhere, across the country and in all the different conferences. There's still a lot of football to be played and who knows what those options, those opportunities, will be."


The stunning aspect involving Dorrell is that only two games into his CU tenure, the 2-0 Buffs are preparing for a Saturday game against 3-0 Southern California that could go a long way toward determining the championship of the Pac-12 South -- and maybe even eventually decide it.


The Buffs? With a first-year coach who took over late? No spring practice? A No. 1 quarterback, Sam Noyer, who hadn't started a game at the position in five years, or since the Beaverton Beavers were edged 70-14 by Jesuit High in an Oregon state playoff game in his senior season?


Yes, those Buffs.


No way did that seem possible only a few weeks ago.     


"There are a lot of ramifications about this game," Dorrell said. "It' a shortened season, a 6-, 7-game season. Now that we're missing a game, it might be only a 6-game. Who knows. We're just trying to maximize our chances, going in this shortened pandemic season. Our players are just locked in on doing those things. We're hopeful of being a factor in this thing. That was our goal frrom the very beginning, to be in the thick of it when the games mattered most. We're about at that halfway point where they're going to be of some significance now. We have to step up to the challenge and prepare and get ourselves ready for a great fight this weekend and hope we can continue to play well and pull out some wins."


Up in Fort Collins, Addazio addressed the 1-2 Rams' Thanksgiving game at Air Force. He alluded to COVID testing affecting manpower, but he wasn't pressed on that, and at least at this point there is no indication the Rams won't be able to field a full (enough) team Thursday at Falcon Stadium.

"Honestly, it's very difficult and it's wearing," Addazio said. "You just have to be mentally strong as a player, as a coach. It is very wearing. As the head coach, you're getting all the texts, based on the texting and everything that happens. . . It's fatiguing, either at night or early in the morning, my phone's going off. Basically your world, so to speak, in terms of prepping for the next day, is changed. Every day you test, that next day, that next morning, you know it's going to change."

Air Force is coming off a postponement against Army, a cancellation against Wyoming and a 28-0 win over New Mexico.


Addazio coached against Navy and Air Force when he was an assistant at Notre Dame, and also against service academies while at Temple and Boston College. But in the tightly focused view of a head coach, he is more concerned about the uniqueness of the Falcons' option-oriented offense than anything else.

"I've run that offense in my history," he said. "I know the offense well. I respect it. I actually really love it. I was a high school coach for seven years and that's what we ran. . . It's a challenging deal and when you play these offenses at service academies, these players are high-character guys that are smart and tough, and they go hand-in-hand with this style of offense. These are young men who are going to go on and defend our country. I have the utmost respect for who they are, what they're all about, their values and the sacrifices that they make."