TCU Horned Frogs vs Colorado Buffaloes, Fri, 9/2/2022, 8pm, MTN

Final Score: TCU 38 – Colorado 13; Attendance: 47,878

Weather:  Cloudy, 84; Ticket: $50 Face; Parking: $15

Review: “Aesthetics aren’t Everything” by Tree

The Logistics:

The University of Colorado is in Boulder, Colorado. It is a short drive from Denver, so logistics are easy. We stayed in a hotel about 15 minutes outside of Boulder. As with almost all Power 5 conferences, if you want to be in town, you will need to make reservations very early. We drove about seven minutes to the East Campus shuttle and paid $15 to park there. It was surely cheaper than an Uber. In general, if you like the outdoors, you should consider making it a three-day weekend. The Flat Irons are just outside of Boulder and offer plenty of beautiful hiking options. Boulder is a typical college town with some more touristy stuff included. We found it easy to spend an afternoon there. I don’t do this often but enjoyed our meal enough to recommend checking out the Bohemian Beirgarten for some good food and beer.

The Site:

One of the reasons we took the shuttles was because we heard Colorado was more about bars than tailgating. I would say that is a good assessment. We checked out a couple of tailgating lots and they were average at best. The folks we met were great, but the tailgating in general was very light. The good news is that as a visitor you can tailgate either by buying a parking pass via a Stubhub, etc. or by using one of the local private lots. The bad news is that it won’t be much of an experience unless you like to be surrounded by empty cars. The University has also set up a big private tailgate field right next to the stadium. Although surrounded by fencing, anyone can walk into the area. However, all the tailgating tents are privately supported and cost $6,000 for the year. It is a split of corporate dollars and private citizens. It quite frankly looks like a business convention and feels about the same. I half expected Del Griffith to show me his new line of shower curtain rings.

One positive about the stadium is the aesthetic. The architecture of the stadium fits seamlessly with the mountains that surround it. It is a beautiful design. That, unfortunately, is about where the joy stops when it comes to this experience. The concessions in the stadium are almost all “Grab and Go.” The idea is that you go grab your food (hot dogs, nachos, etc.) from a hot box and your beverage (cans of beer, soda, and bottled water) from a fridge and then check out. As you might guess, the check out lines backed up almost instantly and by the end of half time, there were shortages all over the place. Worst of all for me – no fountain drinks meant no souvenir cup. If this is a new trend in stadium food service, the game experience is going to be worse and not better.

Our seats were end zone, above the student section. We paid $50 to the University direct. I talked to a scalper going in and he said that was a good price based on the market he was seeing. Visually, the seats were fine. There are two video screens, one for each end zone. The stadium is medium sized, so you are probably fine wherever you sit. I say probably because, well, more on that later. The bleachers are an aluminum design, but seat backs can be purchased for $10. It was well worth the investment. The field is also tight against the stadium wall. Pity the players getting hit on the sidelines because there is not a lot of room before they run into the wall. There aren’t a lot of traditions other than the running of Ralphie the Buffalo. While the intro video montage is a bit long, it is one of the better game openings. A case could be made that Ralphie is perhaps the best mascot in college football. As for other traditions, the only thing unique I noticed was the occasional whiff of Mary Jane in the air. It is Colorado after all.

It was hard to assess the Colorado band. They seemed a bit small and at halftime we couldn’t hear them well. I would say average at best. We saw lots of TCU fans, so tickets were not hard to come by. I had heard from some other fans who had previously visited that the treatment of visitors was not very good. Based on what I saw, I would say that is a reasonable assessment. Walking into the stadium, some of the students were obnoxious and aggressively shouting at TCU fans. To a degree that is to be expected, but as we found out later, Colorado students are worse than most.

The Game:

Colorado was a 14-point underdog coming in, so we could only hope that the Buffs would show up. Alas, as one fan told me, the best thing about Colorado football was the “Nineties.” This game was not much to watch. First, there was about a 45-minute storm delay for lightening. The Buffs did manage to score first with a field goal. TCU later had a long punt return for a TD. The Buffs then got another late field goal before the half. You knew though that for Colorado to stay in this game, they needed to score touchdowns not field goals. But, at half time they were still in it, only down by one with the score 7-6. In the second half, TCU started to roll. Running all over Colorado, they ripped off 31 straight points. We didn’t even need to stay that long. I saw the writing on the wall when the score was 17 – 6 TCU in the mid-3rd quarter. We bolted, confident this one was going to be a blow out.

Personal Notes:

One of the things I like about going to college football games are the students. They are good people watching, from their sartorial choices to their school spirit. At Colorado, they are following the trend that I have seen at several schools where the popular sentiment is the less clothes, the better. There were plenty of girls dressed like they were going to the club and more than a few guys running around without their shirts on. There was some cowboy style on display, but that was more from TCU fans.

It should be noted that I like observing the students but sitting with them – not so much. Obviously, I never buy seats in the student section, but for the Buffalo game our seats were very close to them. Before the game, the surrounding seats were nearly empty. However, it became clear that Colorado had underestimated the student attendance because more and more of them bled into our section until we were surrounded by sweaty, drunk kids. Worse yet, the ones in front of us decided to stand on their seats which meant we had to stand also. Fortunately, the attention span of this generation is about fifteen minutes (tops) so by the end of the first quarter many of them had either left or were sitting down.

Unfortunately, the group behind us then settled into banal, but loud conversation about anything but football. It was distracting at best, annoying at its worse. There was one particularly bad conversation where a want-to-be law school lothario was trying to pick up a vapid and inebriated sorority girl. It was dialogue straight out of a bad Lifetime rom com that was impossible to ignore. At that point, I was desperate for someone to spark up another joint so I could use their secondhand smoke to mentally escape this torture. It takes a lot for me to turn on a game, but the whole experience really soured me on Folsom field at Colorado. For one thing, the ushers were nonexistent. It was clear none of these students had paid for these specific seats. And perhaps, in my younger days, I would have been happy to have scantily glad young women fall into my lap repeatedly, but now, not so much. I just want to watch the game. Again, I love college students, at a distance, like across the stadium.

When you add it all up, the beautiful scenery and unique mascot cannot overcome the weak/corporate tailgating, lack of traditions, and a program in a serious slump. The University of Colorado experience is the pretty sorority girl / handsome frat boy you meet at a kegger only to realize five minutes into the conversation you’d be willing to eat off your arm to get away from them. For college football fans, this one is probably worth passing up.

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