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Know your enemy: Colorado State edition

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Hiya folks and welcome to a gameday edition of know your enemy. It was a trying week in the Roberts household and I was rather under the weather as it were...well, shivering under a blanket with a mixing bowl within arms reach, really...so my normal KYE research schedule was rather compromised. Because of this, I’ve had to cobble together past CSU Know your Enemy factoids for your perusal...but don’t worry, they stand the test of time. Hey, we’ve got all day to wait for this rain to let up, so sit down with a cup of cocoa and read about our Ram friends to the south...east.

Ten things you might not have known about Colorado State and their Rocky Mountain Highness

10) You'd have probably never guessed, but Fort Collins—the home of Colorado State University—was indeed once a fort. Founded in 1864 when soldiers from the 9th Kansas Cavalry were dispatched from nearby Fort Laramie to guard the Overland Stage Line. The post was named "Camp Collins" in honor of Colonel William Oliver Collins (Tom's brother...Phil’s uncle), but was destroyed by a flood a few months later. Looking for a new site, the commanders consulted a local farmer named Joseph "Perry" Mason, who showed them a sweet little tract of land on the Cache La Poudre river (Spanish for "it breaks Poudre") where they could move their little fort. Within a few more months, the site was ready for occupation and the order book referred to the location as "Fort Collins" rather than "Camp Collins" and well, I guess the rest is history. Fact is, the "camp" moniker was probably a better fit since the outpost had no walls, meaning that basically it was just some cabins and tents in a field. Even child engineers know to put walls on a fort, and furthermore know that you want couch cushions to be your load-bearing walls.

9) 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" (seriously). 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".

8) Colorado State University was founded as the Agricultural College of Colorado in 1870, fully six years before Colorado achieved statehood. The school got its start thanks to the oft-mentioned Morrill Land Grant College act and was penciled out on a 30-acre land parcel that stood vacant until the first building "the Claim Shanty" was erected in 1874. I know what you're thinking...4 years to build one building? Well, rumor has it they had a nosy roofer and he kept dropping eaves /rimshot. All jokes aside (but not too far aside), the school had to jump through all the regular bureaucratic hoops and funds had to be raised and allocated before the Beets 'n Sheep institution could get off the ground...which it eventually did when the first students arrived in 1879. The university's first president, Elijah "Easy E" Edwards, had been a civil war chaplain and bore an uncanny resemblance to David Crosby.

edwards

I will teach your children well.

7) Colorado State played their first football game in 1890 but had no head coach, and presumably no arm or leg coach either and saw their 2 game season end winless against the likes of Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines. Of course, you can't fault them too much, as Colorado at the time had a live buffalo playing center and the School of Mines were allowed to utilize the tools of their trade—pickaxes and dynamite. By 1903, CSU finally produced a winning season under head coach Matt Rothwell. Rothwell had enough sense to leave Fort Collins after one season, and history rewarded him for it by making him the CSU coach with the highest win percentage ever (.833). Sadly, it took the Rams another 12 years before recording another winning season—this time under Harry Hughes. Segue alert!

6) The longest-tenured coach in CSU history is Harry W. Hughes, who coached for 32 seasons between 1911 and 1946 (math doesn't add up because he took a 4 year hiatus)—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.

Hughes

You’d think they could’ve afforded a better chair for Hughes

5) 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 inspire 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 contains the trigger words "sissy" and "Cornell".

4) CSU employs (he works for sugar beets) a Rambouillet Bighorn Sheep (cheaper than its cousin the Robert Goulet Sheep) named “CAM” as their live mascot for football games. The Ram, now in its 25th iteration, takes the field before games and at halftime and will give a hearty "BAA" when asked about this year's CSU squad. The mascot(s) got the name CAM in 1946 when an acronymically gifted alumnus suggested the name to stand for Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College...wait, that's CAMC! What are you playing at?! At any rate, CAM #24 died last season at age 6 (on the day of the CSU-Colorado game) and is now cheering on the Rams from quadruped heaven. In quadruped hell? Surprisingly, Lassie #2 who was an unapologetic anti-Semite. Oh, and the first CSU mascot was not a sheep but a bulldog named Peanuts, but I think too many people were allergic (and this was before EpiPens).

CAM

RIP CAM #24

3) The Rams play their home football games at Hughes Stadium (capacity 34,400) and have since 1968. The stadium bears the name of coach Harry Hughes, who as you learned before was the Joe Paterno of CSU football, but without all the posthumous revelations that make you sick to your stomach. The field surface is named after another legendary Ram coach, Sonny Lubick, who led the team for 15 years only retiring in 2007 after it seemed he'd lost his touch. The first ever game at Hughes Stadium took place in September of '68, and the Rams fell to a Mean Joe Greene-led North Texas State squad. After the game however, in a show of respect and admiration, Greene presented CSU coach Mike Lude with a game-worn jersey in exchange for a bottle of Coca-Cola.

2) While CU-Boulder is a natural in-state rival—the oldest (and some say, bitterest) rival for CSU is the University of Wyoming. CSU and Wyoming have played 108 times dating back to 1899, with CSU having won 58 of the contests to date. Since 1968, the winner of the "border war" has received the Bronze Boot trophy, which is (gasp) a bronzed boot that was worn by CSU ROTC instructor Capt. Dan Romero in Vietnam. How he managed to sneak up on the Vietcong with that thing on is beyond me.

Bronze boot

Rams hoist their booty.

1) This is awkward. Coach Mike Bobo has been at the Colorado State helm for two seasons now after an "SEC swap" took Ram coach Jim McElwain to Florida and brought Georgia OC Bobo to Fort Collins. Bobo seems like a nice enough fellow, but a rudimentary understanding of Español reveals that maybe his ancestors were the silly sort.

bobo