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December 15, 2020



 Steve Addazio's Rams should be provisionally scheduled to play CU Sunday. Yes, Sunday.  


At this point, what do the Colorado Buffaloes owe the Pac-12?




Absolutely nothing.


Some of this is a reprise, but the narrative continues to evolve, too.


When the Washington Huskies were ruled out of the Friday night Pac-12 championship game in Los Angeles, the Buffs were the common-sense replacement. Yes, they had lost for the first time this season over the weekend to Utah, but they were a more appropriate choice to step in and face USC.


To insist on having one team from the North and one from the South in the title game under the 2020 conditions --including that USC had to pull out of the head-to-head matchup with the Buffs in the regular season -- is ridiculous.


But twice-beaten Oregon moved in to represent the North. 


And where'd that leave the Buffs? Without an opponent and without a game, because the league had scheduled the Ducks to face the Buffs Saturday in the Coliseum, essentially to have a replacement on the scene if Washington or USC couldn't go. 


But you knew all that.


The precautions already paid off, before anyone headed to L.A., when the Huskies conceded their entire offensive line room would be unavailable. That's when the Buffs should have been moved in to the title game, but they weren't. 


The resulting situation is that if nothing else changes  in he next few days, the Buffs are being told they're the standbys for the Friday night television slot that must be filled for television revenue purposes.


They're like Dorothy Stanley as the standy for Patti Lupone in "Sweeney Todd." 


They're like Merideth Kaye Clark as the standby for Donna Vivino in "Wicked." 


You're not an understudy, you're not in the show on a nightly basis as the math teacher.


You're on call.


At least as of Tuesday night, that was the Buffs.


That's the awkward part.


While the Pac-12 waited to see if anything happens with Oregon and USC, and if any of the other "crossover" games would collapse -- California and Arizona already has been mutually canceled -- Colorado is in the awkward position of having to hope for problems elsewhere if it wants to play this weekend and if the potential opponents are limited to Pac-12 teams.


On Tuesday, word spread that the USC basketball program was having COVID-19 issues and had canceled its next three games. CU's hoops team has had COVID issues, too, so that's not necessarily ominous for the Trojans. But ...


(It seems that if Oregon can't go, the league wouldn't be so stubborn as to drop down to, say, Stanford as the North's rep. It's committed to the Buffs ... as the standby.)


Of course, some CU players might be ambivalent about facing, say, Oregon State, and apparently their leadership council had input in AD Rick George's announcement that CU wasn't seeking a non-conference game. I'm sorry, though, I believe football players want to play football games -- and a home game against a rival would be palatable. 


In Fort Collins, the CSU Rams Tuesday were in the process of stepping away from a game-week practice routine when athletic dirctor Joe Parker and Steve Addazio appeared on a Zoom call and all but ruled out playing this weekend after attempts to line up an opponent fell through. (Attempts that included touching base with CU AD Rick George.) Addazio was adamant that his team, which has gotten in only four games, wanted to play.        


So that brings us to CU-CSU.


Here's a compromise allowing the Buffs to not completely flip off the Pac-12.


The Broncos face the Bills Saturday. That isn't directly linked to this, but gave me the idea.


Provisionally schedule  the Rocky Mountain Showdown for Sunday (or even Monday). If nobody else wants it, it could go on the Pac-12 network.    


Slot it for Boulder, if that's what it takes, though this year's rivalry game was set for Fort Collins on Sept. 5 before it was scrubbed.


The understanding is that if Colorado has to step in for USC (or Oregon, for that matter) in the title game Friday night -- whether that happens eight minutes after I post this or on Friday afternoon -- CU-CSU is off. I'll leave it up to those in higher pay grades to decide if the Buffs should go to Los Angeles Thursday to stand by, but if they don't play Friday night, they could return to Boulder Saturday -- in time to play the Rams Sunday. The Pac-12 could foot that travel bill, treating the Buffs to Tommy's Burgers Friday night. 


CU already has played one home game hastily arranged at the last second -- against San Diego State after the Nov. 29 meeting with the Trojans at the Coliseum was canceled on that Thursday.      


At least this could be provisionally planned.


Anybody with me?     


*   *   *


OK, that's my view.


Now I'll add some of what came out of that Zoom call with Parker and Addazio Tuesday. It's background.


Parker first outlined his unsuccessful attempts to line up a weekend opponent for the Rams.


"We looked coast to coast, we talked to Autonomous 5 schools, we talked to Group of 5 schools," he said. "We talked to partners in the bowl space, the conference office and ran down every lead we possibly could to come up with really no alternative, no options to conitnue the season. I think the coach is going to be meeting with the team (Tuesday afternoon) and letting them know what the status is. But I think we're to a point where we think we've chased down every alternative that we're currently aware of."


Had he talked with CU?


"I talked to Rick this week," he said. "I did. I think early in the week there was some openness to the concept. . . I don't know what conversations they had with their conference office, right? I think each one of us has a priority to try and get conference games in. As we all know, there's a lot of fluidity to each week, particularly this last week."


He noted that if CU doesn't play this week, the Buufs are assured of a bowl berth.    


"We're faced with trying to find one more game just for a chance to line up and develop our program," Parker said.


In addition to the surface talks with CU, Parker said, there were discussions about facing New Mexico or UNLV, whose games against the Rams were canceled. But he wouldn't comment on other possible talks, including with Georgia.     


Parker  gave Addazio a passing grade in his abbreviated first season at CSU.


"I think Steve Addazio's done a tremendous job," he said "In every way. We've faced as much or more adversity as any program in the nation when you think what we had to fight through to get to the point to play. The messaging that I witnessed him providing to the students in the locker room after each of our games, three losses and one win. And what I heard him say to that team Saturday at a breakfast when they expected to be eating a breakfast in preparation for a football game that evening...I have a lot of confidence in who Steve Addazio is as a leader and in his ability to connect with young men and make them really understand the value of football here on our campus."


In his turn at he micophone, Addazio was almost defiant, and he again -- as he routinely does -- prefaced his remarks by emphasizing his awareness of the pandemic conditions and an acknolwedgment that football is down the list of real-world priorities. Frankly, I'm not always sure that he hasn't left himself open to remarks being taken out of context or blown out of proportion. (Cliches ... but appropriate. It happens, especially in the clickbait age.)       

He opened by saying that t that moment, he hadn't given up on playing anothr game this weekend. 


"How close were we to putting that together, I'd say probably extremely close," he said. "My mindset, just so we're clear here, our team wants to opt-in. We're not looking to opt out ... We're dying to play another game. Anybody. Anyplace. Any time. Anywhere. . . I had kind of set today as sort of a deadline just because I don't think it's fair to the kids at a certain point. I think there will be opportunities, but you wouldn't know that for a while now.

"We are not going to practice this week. I am going to have a team meeting when I leave here and explain to the team that we haven't been able to secure anything and it does't look like that will happen. To shut the door on anything, I've learned not to shut the door on anything ever. I don't know what anything could be. Relative to playing Colorado, yeah, I would say being honest, that's very frustrating to me. I felt like we've had two matched-up opportunities. but I don't walk in anybody else's shoes. . . I would have loved to have seen that kind of game, we're up the streeet, there's a lof of interest. Guys, if you don't know anything about me, know this, I want to play ball. You get better by playing games."


He made it clear he's frustrated, while also emphasizing any game this weekend would involve the COVID-19 safeguards and screening tied to the cancellation of so many games.    


"We have teams sittting idle right now," he said. "Why not play if you can play. . . People are playing. Why not us?"   


UPDATE: As of Thursday night, the Oregon-USC matchup still was on for Friday night. And the Buffs were destined to be idle this weekend. There was a better way to do this. 






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