Are the CSU Rams At or Below Expectations [POLL]
It is said that frustration is unmet expectation. With certain ducks in a row and with pieces in place, positive results should be expected. There is a palpable level of frustration within Ram country right now.
As the clock ticked to zero in Laramie, Wyoming Saturday evening, the Rams players, coaches, and fans had both a familiar look and feel when seeing the score: a loss in a "big game" to a rival. A loss in a "big game" with division and Mountain West Conference implications. This was a game that we all thought would be a win and that finally the Rams would get that "big game" monkey off their back. It's what we expected, anyway. The scoreboard said it all: Wyoming 16, CSU 13. Frustrating.
What are the expectations for the Rams program? Is it to have a winning program? Since 2013, the Rams have done that with the pinnacle reached in 2014 with 10 wins. Nearing the end of his third season, Head Coach Mike Bobo has continued the winning ways with two 7-6 seasons and a 6-4 record with two to play. Those two? Boise State and San Jose State. They could be 8-4, if our expectations are high. Or, they could be 7-5, with the win over San Jose State being a given. The Spartans are 1-9 on the season and haven't really been close in any game, except the win. Either way, the Rams are closing in on what we expect to be a winning season and a trip to a bowl. Is that good enough?
Coach Bobo has led a clean program since he's been here. There hasn't been any dramatic headlines involving the players. He helped to increase the school's GSR (Graduation Success Rate) by one percent since last year to 85%, which ranks them third in the Mountain West. He is by all accounts a good man both on and off the field and heavily involved in campus and community campaigns. There are a lot of programs across the country that are screaming for that kind of coach. Is that good enough?
The new stadium was a statement to Rams fans, alumni, and all of Northern Colorado that they want to raise the bar. Goodbye old, small, and outdated facilities. Hello new, updated, and on-campus stadium. We are in it to win it!
If you look at the October 14th game (Homecoming) against Nevada, maybe the new stadium and winning aren't enough. A game that CSU was leading and that was nationally televised, most of the crowd left before the 4th quarter. It was one of the more exciting games of the season as the Rams held on 44-42. But, there was hardly anyone there to see it.
We are in a classic "Yes, but." Yes, we are winning games, going to bowls, playing in a brand new on-campus stadium, watching a clean NCAA program with a good man coaching and recruiting. But.....we want to win the big games. We want to brag that we beat the CU Buffs and have laid claim to the best in the state. We want to peek over the Wyoming border and smile with pride that the Cowboys ain't got nothing on our football team. We want the national front page on Sunday after we knock off a Boise State team that is almost always nationally ranked. Hell, we want what Boise State has, honestly. That's the other issue. Sonny Lubick proved you can win and make national waves at CSU. Boise State has done the same. Winning helps to sell tickets. But winning the big games creates the buzz and fanaticism that gets people to show up, paint their body's in green and gold, and stay til the very end....in a packed house.
The Rams fan base has been anything but impatient. There had been some really lean years before McElwain and Bobo, and while there were rumblings, it never reached a level of outrage. Even during McElwain's first season (4-8), there was a comforting level of "let's wait and see". That turned out very well for the program. Mike Bobo's name has been dropped in association with a couple of coaching opportunities at Missouri and Tennessee, but he has made it clear to his players and the university that he's committed to CSU. While we hope each week that we're closer to that "big win", and heaven knows we're itching for it, perhaps we take comfort that this program is in better shape than most and that maybe we give it some more time. More of the "wait and see". Is that good enough?