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Colorado State football coach Steve Addazio has a simple message for every college football team not scheduled to play this weekend: The Rams are ready for you.
Last weekend, CSU suffered its fourth game cancelation of the season — stemming from a Utah State player boycott unrelated to COVID-19) — erasing half of the Rams’ eight-game season. CSU athletic director Joe Parker said the program has searched the past several days from “coast-to-coast” to contact potential opponents, including the University of Colorado, but were unsuccessful in scheduling a game this weekend.
The Rams are 1-3.
“We talked to autonomous five schools, we talked to group-of-five schools, we talked to partners in the bowl space and the conference office,” Parker said. “We ran down every lead we possibly could to come up with really no alternatives, no options for our team to continue its season.”
Addazio would not rule out the possibility of playing again in 2020. He said: “I’ve learned not to shut the door on anything, ever.” But the first-year coach is not holding practice this week.
CSU’s inability to schedule a game against CU was especially difficult for Addazio to accept. Buffs linebacker Akil Jones told reporters on Tuesday that the team’s choice to not play a non-conference game was “decided as a collective group” — while CU sits idle as a potential fill-in for the Pac-12 championship game. The Rocky Mountain Showdown was also canceled earlier this season.
“I felt like we’ve had two matchup opportunities (against CU), but I don’t walk in anybody else’s shoes,” Addazio said. “I would have loved to have seen that kind of game. We’re up the street. There’s a lot of interest.”
Parker confirmed he reached out to CU athletic director Rick George to discuss the possibility of rescheduling the Rocky Mountain Showdown this weekend. The Buffs declined.
“Everyone has got to make decisions that are in the best interests of their student-athletes,” Parker said. “I’m sure every program, including CU, has to factor in many things. They are a program right now that has played enough games and had enough wins to be considered for postseason play. In our case, an opportunity to play this week or sometime beyond would have been extremely meaningful, just for our program development, but they have that (bowl) opportunity. We’re faced trying to find one more (game) just for a chance to line up and develop our program. They know they have one more (game).
“It’s hard to assess how each school is going to react to different situations, but Rick and I consult each other a lot and have conversations that, hopefully, over time align with us being able to play, in not just football, but multiple sports.”
Addazio wasn’t all doom-and-gloom as the Rams’ season is more than likely over. He said the program has “real foundational blocks” to build a championship culture. But Addazio has also grown visibly frustrated by how the pandemic has shifted the priorities for many college football teams.
“If I didn’t have two fake knees, I would try to go down to the YMCA and play pickup basketball games,” Addazio said. “Play the game. Stop worrying about who you’re playing and what’s the perception and ‘What if we lose?’ This is what I hear a lot going on in the country right now. It’s all strategic based. I’m like, are you kidding me? How about the spirit of college football? Let’s go. I’ll move on, but right now I’m a little irritated (about) our sport all around the country right now.
“I don’t want to act like I’m not sympathetic. I am. I understand these are unbelievably hard times. I’m not acting like that. But, you know, if you can play, you play. If you can’t, you can’t. But I’d love to play. How about we leave it like that?”