The 5280 Football Preview
Our rip-roarin’, QB-battlin’, coach-firin’, trash-talkin’ look at the upcoming season on Colorado’s most-storied gridirons
The Colorado Cup
Why isn't there a bragging-rights trophy among Colorado's three largest college football programs?
In 1958 the Air Force Academy, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder football teams played one another in a series of games that unofficially determined the state's collegiate champion. There wasn't a trophy for the effort, though in hindsight, there should have been. It was the last time all three programs scheduled one another in the same year.
Among the three schools, each has at least one version of intrastate bragging rights: CU and CSU have the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown; Air Force and CSU have the Ram-Falcon Trophy. But what about CU and Air Force? If history is a barometer, fans shouldn't expect a rematch any time soon.
The Falcons and the Buffs last squared off in October 1974, after which the programs agreed—without officially stipulating it—to never play again. A year earlier—before the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War—the on-field rivalry spilled into a cultural battle between the traditionally liberal Boulder-based school and the military-bound academy cadets. After the 1973 game in Boulder—which CU won 38 to 17—Air Force players claimed they were sworn at and that eggs were thrown at Academy officials.
Although it's debatable as to who ended the matchup—CU officials say Air Force wanted to stop the series—the team avoiding the game these days appears to be Colorado. Nearly a decade ago, former AFA coach Fisher DeBerry wanted to renew the rivalry, but then-CU head coach Gary Barnett half-jokingly said his team would only play if Air Force dumped its quirky, run-heavy offensive scheme. CU officials now say they've tried to work out a game with the service academy, but difficult scheduling has never allowed a matchup.
For his part, fourth-year Air Force coach Troy Calhoun says he "would love" a game with Colorado, but "that's not up to me." David Plati, CU's director of sports information, says he's unsure when a game would happen, mostly because CU prefers a "national schedule" and the series with CSU already takes up one of the school's nonconference games. If Air Force were to play CU again, Plati says, it would have to happen when CSU isn't on the schedule—which would be in 2021, at the earliest. By then, 63 years will have passed since Colorado had a true state champion. —RS