A loge box can’t tackle. The New Belgium Porch won’t shed a block. A 4,242 square-foot video board may capture the image of an opposing quarterback in flight, but it can’t bring him down from behind.
Colorado State football is a 15-year-old with a red Corvette his parents couldn’t afford. Every now and then, the kid does a victory lap at 110 miles per hour, laughing at the peasants, smoking tires and turning heads.
Within minutes, he’s wrapped that baby around a telephone pole.
South Dakota State 42, CSU Rams 23.
Thanks, Urban Meyer.
It’s not that the Rams got boat-raced in their backyard. It’s not that they got shamed on national television by a squad — a strong one, granted — from the Football Championship Subdivision. It’s not that they handed the Jackrabbits a $450,000 check for the privilege of getting kicked in the teeth for three hours.
It’s the way they got out-Dazzed. The ‘Rabbits were bigger. Stronger. Faster. Tougher. Sounder. In every category second-year CSU coach Steve Addazio purports his teams to excel, the Rams were second-best. A distant second, at that.
South Dakota State 42, CSU Rams 23.
Trey McBride came back for this?
“I’ve said we have one of the best front sevens (on defense) in the nation, and we gave up seven yards per rush,” Addazio told reporters after the game. “That can’t happen.”
Not like this. Not now. Coaching regime changes, more often than not, take time. They’re not always linear. Or fun. The one in FoCo was always destined to be tricky. The Rams, built to be fast and spread out by quarterback-friendly Mike Bobo, were challenged to get tough and tight by a new boss in The Daz, whose heart lies with the offensive line first.
But we’re creeping into Year 2, and despite a healthier, more polished Todd Centeio at quarterback, the new system still ain’t taking. Meanwhile, the naysayers who pegged Addazio as another lousy coaching fit, a favor hire for his pal Urby, are having a field day.
CSU has played only five games under Addazio since October 2020. They’ve lost four of those by at least 12 points. They’ve dropped three by 19 points or more.
What’s worse? Even after the pandemic portal allowed The Daz to phase out so-called Bobo guys and import more of his own, the Rams are still getting whupped where it hurts their coach most: At the line of scrimmage. An alleged CSU strength.
South Dakota State rushed for 242 yards on 34 carries, a whopping 7.1 yards per tote. The Rams averaged just 3.1 yards per carry on 40 attempts and turned it over twice.
If the ‘Rabbits could toss CSU’s dudes around like eighth graders, what kind of pain is Iowa, Offensive Line U, likely to inflict on the Rams in three weeks?
The smart cookies saw this coming. South Dakota State is the anti-Nebraska, a small name that swings a big stick.
They’re also the reigning FCS national runners-up. Addazio warned us on Blake Street a few weeks back that SDSU smelled like a big, bad wolf in sheep’s clothing, blessed with enough lungs to blow down any house.
Yet before this past Friday, that program’s only victory over an FBS school was at Kansas in Week 1 of 2015, a 41-38 decision that SDSU led 31-14 at the half.
Those Jayhawks went 0-12.
Thanks a lot.
If you’re not a member Pac-12-Big-Ten-ACC alliance, you’re fair game right now — poach or be poached. CSU is a floating football free agent, and every performance like this past Friday’s pushes the Rams further down the pecking order of public perception. And it’s only going to make the cries for a CSU alum to lead the program out of the wilderness, such as longtime Ohio State assistant Tony Alford, all the more clamorous.
Canvas Stadium is destined to become the nicest place nobody will pay to visit. To mangle a famous Texas aphorism, CSU football is all castle and no cattle.
And even if Big 12 is wounded, it’s not desperate. Rams AD Joe Parker can spin and pitch ‘til he’s blue in the face. Sure, Power 5 leagues appreciate fancy facilities. But that’s the icing, not the cake.
No, the smart play in realignment is football brand acquisition. The College Football Playoff is poised to add more seats to the table. It’s a question of how much and, given the understandable reticence to another ESPN bag job, how quickly.
An audience with King Midas requires football programs that can either throw down with the big boys or perennially punch above its weight. Reports say BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are the Big 12’s fallback plan in a post-Texas/Oklahoma world. And that’s it.
Which makes sense — over the last six seasons, each of those four programs has finished among the top 25 of Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings at least once. Since 2018, BYU’s average finish in the rankings was 45th; Cincinnati landed at No. 28; Houston was No. 77; UCF, No. 27.
The Rams’ average, since 2018? No. 112.
A football team that talks tough with a glass jaw usually winds up eating every word. And a house of sandstone and steel doesn’t mean a blasted thing if the program inside is made of straw.