Friday, February 10, 2012

Remembering CU Football with my Dad

In 1968 at the age of 12 I was a rabid Denver Bronco fan. As I wrote about in a previous post I bought Bronco season tickets with my friend Greg that year (tickets I still own to this day).

My Dad was never that much into the Broncos, though. Instead University of Colorado football was his favorite spectator sport. In the late 60's and early 70's he took me to a number of games at Folsom Field on the CU campus. Back then the Buffs had discount tickets for sale at 9 a.m. on game days. My Dad and I would leave our south Denver home early on Saturday morning to make sure we'd be in line to get a chance at these tickets.

"I always liked the college game better," my Dad would tell me when comparing the CU experience to the Broncos. "I like the enthusiasm of the college kids," he said.

The CU Buffs in the late 60's and early 70's had some very good teams - with much better won-loss records than the Broncos. While going to Buff games with my Dad did not change my preference for pro football, I came to learn that going to CU games was pretty cool, too! We saw some great players on those Colorado teams, like the Anderson brothers and Cliff Branch. I remember a high scoring 1969 game against Kansas State that had more offensive fireworks than any Bronco game I had seen (the Buffs won that day 45-32).

We always sat past the goal line on the east side of the stadium (section 121). In a family with five kids I didn't get that much alone time with my Dad, except on those CU football Saturdays. With our tickets in hand at 9 a.m., we'd talk for hours as we waited for the 1:30 p.m. kickoff. Just me and my Dad. I remember after one game my Dad got lost driving home (he wasn't the best at following directions), and we ended up in this little town called Louisville. We called home from a pay phone outside a gas station to tell Mom we'd be late for dinner.

I cherished those CU football Saturdays with my Dad. Years later, in the mid 80's, I found myself living in that little town we had stumbled upon years before. As a young software engineer working at Storage Tech and living in Louisville, I would frequently drive up to Boulder for game days. Watching CU football rise to prominence under Bill McCartney was a thrill in those years. My Dad didn't go to any games in the 80's. Except for one.

On October 28, 1986 I treated my Dad to the CU/Nebraska game. I splurged and bought sideline tickets. I drove down to Denver to pick him up. We had lunch out together, just like old times. I wanted to thank him for all those CU football games he had taken me to in my childhood, and the Buffaloes did not disappoint us that day. Nebraska came into the game ranked #2, but CU upset the Cornhuskers 20-10. This still is the greatest Colorado game I have ever attended in person, and my Dad and I loved every minute of it.

There will be no more CU football games for my Dad, as he passed away last week at the age of 90. I will always remember those Fall afternoons at Folsom Field as some of the best times I had with him.