June 25, 2009
Air Force should play Colorado in football. No genuine obstacles stand in the way, and there are a few thousand good reasons to tangle.
Fans want the game. The athletic directors want the game. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun wants the game. Colorado coach Dan Hawkins doesn't want the game, but we'll just ignore him.
It's silly to let trivial matters block the renewal of a natural series. Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh and Colorado AD Mike Bohn must embrace the required compromises.
Sure, the men have been talking. That's a great start, but talk soon turns irritating. It's time to turn talk to reality.
And, please, Hans and Mike, stop explaining why the games can't be played. Don't talk about your schedules being full.
Houston, for instance, was on Air Force's 2010 schedule but got booted. A football schedule can be changed as easily as an oil filter.
I know the two of you can make this happen, and both of you know it, too.
The series, on its way to becoming a Front Range tradition, ended in 1974 after Colorado students hassled cadets in Boulder. Full cans of beer and eggs and insults were thrown at Air Force students and officials.
Some of the Colorado students were drunk and others were expressing misdirected outrage against the Vietnam War. It was a mess, and memories of those ugly afternoons served as a roadblock to the series for decades.
Former Air Force AD Randy Spetman was a member of the last Falcons team to travel to Boulder in 1973, and he had no interest in a return journey.
But it's time to discard those memories. It's time to play the game.
"Yes," Calhoun said at Thursday's Colorado Springs Sports Corp. Football Kickoff Luncheon at the Colorado Springs Marriott. "I'd love to do it. It would be great for college football in the state of Colorado."
"Absolutely," Bohn said. "It just makes a lot of sense."
Hawkins lacks this logical enthusiasm. He scrunched his nose at the mention of his Buffs battling the Falcons.
He and Calhoun are friends, and they often chat about the game. Calhoun talks with excitement about packed stadiums while Hawkins grumbles about preparing for the triple-option offense.
Do the Florida Gators, Hawkins asked, have to play every team in their state? The Buffs already play Colorado State every season.
I can see why Hawkins is worried. It would be painful to face CU alums if the Buffs lost to CSU and AFA in the same season.
This frightening scenario inspires Hawkins to ask a question:
"Are we," Hawkins asked, "obligated to play the two in-state teams and not have flexibility in our nonconference schedule?"
Hawkins intended the question as rhetorical. To him, the answer is an obvious no.
To me - and thousands of Colorado football fans - the answer is an obvious yes.