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Know your enemy 2015: Colorado State Rams

"Often we have no time for our friends but all the time in the world for our enemies." —Leon Uris

Week 6 is upon us and the Broncos look to remain unbeaten in conference play in Fort Collins tomorrow evening. The Rams are a bit of an enigma this year, but could have enough gusto to defeat the Broncos if everything breaks their way. There isn't anything overly interesting about Fort Collins, so this year you'll largely be treated to reruns of past KYE's...but that's okay, they've been finely curated and only the best made the cut


Ten things you might not know about Colorado State or their Rocky Mountain roost

10) Fort Collins, Colorado—home of modern day Colorado State University was founded in 1862 as a military outpost, but calling it a "fort" from the outset would be grossly inaccurate. For one, the outpost had no walls—generally a key component of a successful fort, and given my admittedly sparse knowledge of architecture, I can say with certainty the wall-less fort had no roof either as those tend to rely on walls for verticality. So really, what we're talking about here is a field...a field named "Camp Collins" (after Col. William O. Collins) and designed to protect the Overland Trail from indian attacks but certainly not rain, heavy winds, or flood—the latter being what ruined the camp and forced them to move down the La Poudre River to the current town site. The settlement was renamed "Fort Collins" after receiving much needed walls and probably a few roofs. Oh, and a clerical error kept the town in government hands all the way until 1872. Darn clerics.


Happy campers.

9) Colorado State University was established as Colorado Agricultural College in 1870—a full six years before statehood (so early "Colorado is NOT a state" chants from rivals were particularly biting). Well, "established" is probably a little fast and loose, as the school existed largely on paper until 1879, when it opened its doors to a SINGLE student (graduated at the top and bottom of his class too). The following year, Mr. Popularity gained 25 new friends who were offered classes like arithmetic, English, U.S. history, natural philosophy, horticulture and farm economy (a now defunct subject due to the farm economic crash of 1929). Elijah Evan Edwards (below) was the first university president and is currently still touring with Stills and Nash.


"Won't you let me teach your children well."

8) In 1872 the town of Fort Collins experienced its first population boom thanks in part to the establishment of an agricultural colony. The cosmopolitan pursuits of rock quarrying, sugar beet farming, and sheep slaughter really put the berg on the map and by 1900 the surplus of beet tops and sheep led the metropolis to become known as the "lamb feeding capital of the world". I have a sneaking suspicion that in the early 1900s towns that did stuff that was too boring or unprofitable for other towns to do often labeled themselves as "____ capital of the world"—besides, it looked better on the town population sign than "Beets and Sheep, 4 for a dollar".

7) Colorado State played their first season of collegiate football in 1890, although they had no coach and apparently not much talent. The inaugural squad went 0-2 against Colorado and the Colorado School of Mimes (or Mines). The next year, the fledgling squad still had no coach, but did understand the basic tenets of the sport and improved their record to 2-2. The following years (still no coach) were a bit of a blur as the squad either lost regularly or just packed it in altogether (1895–1898). Finally, in 1899...a breakthrough! A coach! W.J. Forbes to be exact. He wasn't any good and only lasted a year, but the precedent had been set—the squad was to have a coach AND actually play games more than once every 3 years. You can't stop progress!

6) Colorado State athletics competes as the "Rams", but this was not always the case. Early on, the school competed under the familiar "Aggies" moniker common to agricultural colleges. Between 1935 and 1957, the school was known as Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, or Colorado A&M for fans of brevity—and during that time, the Aggies name was used exclusively. The team mascot went through several iterations before a Rambouillet sheep was introduced in the 1940s...eventually leading the sports teams to adopt the nickname in 1957. Prior to the Ram, the school's live mascot had been a bulldog named Peanuts (suspected of being poisoned by CU students in 1918), a six year old kid named Billy Hughes (son of head coach Harry Hughes, and thankfully not poisoned by CU students), and a bear cub (given no name...let's call him Bear-y Bostwick). The live ram mascot is, and has always been, named "CAM" which yes, rhymes, but is not so much a name as it is an stands for "Colorado A&M". Clever.


"I can see into your soul."

5) The longest-tenured coach in CSU history is Harry W. Hughes, father of mascot Billy. Hughes coached for 32 seasons between 1911 and 1946 (math doesn't add up because he took a 4 year hiatus), which is more than double the next longest-tenured coach in program history (Sonny Lubick). Given Hughes' longevity, it's unsurprising that he's the career wins (and losses) leader. In 1914, Hughes developed a play called the Million Dollar Play, which was probably aspirational, because I don't think he earned a dime from it. Anyhoo, the Million Dollar Play was an end-around based triple pass of sorts and it blew WWI era minds apparently but then again, so did the forward pass. After handing over the reins of the football team to Bob Davis in 1947, Hughes became the athletic director and when he decided to retire from that in 1953, he promptly died of a massive heart attack. The guy's heart really did beat for the Aggies.


Million Dollar Playah.

4) Picking the best player in Colorado State history is a largely subjective undertaking, but I'd say that Thurman "Fum" McGraw has a pretty strong case. Fum—who had brothers named Fee, Fie, and Fo—enrolled at CSU (then known as Colorado A&M) in 1946 after serving a stint with the Marines in WWII and quickly became a dominant defensive end for the Rams (then known as the Aggies). Fum's boxing and wrestling background and 6'5" frame helped him become the school's first consensus All-American in 1948...a feat he repeated in 1949. After graduating, Fum was drafted by the Detroit Lions and was selected Rookie of the Year and an All-Pro in his first season. Fum only played 5 seasons in the NFL, but was good enough to be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981. A CSU booster till his death in 2000, Fum would often visit the locker room and recite what is now known as "Fum's Song", a harmless ditty that denigrates their rival institutions. Of course, since this is the 21st century, and no one can be offended or the least bit put out, ever, the school was asked to halt the playing of a video of McGraw singing "Fum's Song" on the stadium jumbotron prior to the 2006 season. I've embedded the video of ole Fum belting out his tune below...but I warn you, it's so objectionable you might just get the vapors.

3) Wyoming is Colorado State's oldest athletic rival, but maybe not their bitterest. That distinction probably lies with the University of Colorado in Boulder, who the Rams play each year in what has become known as the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Colorado leads the series 64-23-2, and the Buffs have current bragging rights after defeating the Rams in OT in week 3. The winner of the annual showdown receives the Centennial Cup—a chrome cup on loan from the Li'l Jon collection. If you want to get a taste for just how little (or much) Colorado State thinks of their Boulder counterparts, look no further than the CSU fight song, which gives specific instructions about what to do with CU's line:

Fight on you stalwart RAM Team
On to the goal
Tear the Buffalo's line asunder
As down the field we thunder.
Knights of the Green and Gold,
Fight with all your might.
Fight on you stalwart RAM team!

Yeah! Tear them asunder! Rent them in twain!

2) You're probably already going to hear a lot of academics cracks from ascot-clad Colorado State fans, but at least they can back up some of said smack by referring you to alum Kim Ung-yong. Ung-yong held the Guinness World Record for "highest IQ" (guessed to be over 200) while attending Colorado State and used his considerable smarts to earn a PhD in physics in 1976—before his 15th birthday. By age four, the Korean-born Ung-yong could speak 4 different languages—which is three and a half more languages than I'm fluent in to this very day.

1) Not many schools can claim alumni that have written a New York Times' bestseller, but Colorado State can do just that with author and alum Van Wolverton. Wolverton graduated from CSU in 1965 with a degree in English and in 1984 had finished his magnum opus, the oft-cited masterpiece Running MS-DOS. Even 30 years after the book was published by Microsoft Press, you're sure to hear some of it's more famous refrains recited at poetry slams across the U.S. Who can forget where they were the first time they heard this classic (and profound) passage?

C:\>format b:
Insert new floppy disk for drive B: and press ENTER when ready . . .

The book was later adapted into an Academy Award winning film called Dos Boot.