Why renewal of CU Buffs-Air Force football game “should’ve been done a long time ago”


BOULDER — The quick reply is Vietnam.

The longer reply to What took so lengthy for the CU Buffs to play Air Power once more? is … effectively, like most issues, it’s nuanced. It’s a multitude of gray and outdated grudges, a cautionary story of what occurs when sports activities and politics are thrown into the identical boiling pot and stirred like there’s no tomorrow.

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Air Power cut up finish Bob Farr grabs a 15-yard third-down catch between Colorado’s Rick Cleveland (20) and Randy Geist (15) at Folsom Subject on Oct. 13, 1973.

Ted Sundquist heard The Lore. He’s heard all in regards to the final time these groups performed at Folsom Subject in 1973, in regards to the eggs and tomatoes and stress within the air, in regards to the beer cans and obscenities and no matter else was hurled at cadets, about Academy automobiles being overturned, in regards to the names that will or could not have been uttered.

He’s heard all in regards to the apologies. Concerning the makes an attempt at reconciliation from CU officers rebuffed, decade after decade, by Air Power directors, by Academy lifers, in regards to the stone wall of silence that by no means moved. By no means forgot. By no means forgave.

Ultimately, Sundquist, the previous Broncos common supervisor and Air Power fullback, doesn’t care who’s guilty for The 44-Yr Freeze. He’s simply glad it’s over and the groups shall be enjoying Saturday.

“I think enough time has gone by — I mean enough time in history outside of football has gone by,” Sundquist says. “This is a renewal that should’ve been done a long time ago.”

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The quick reply is 54,354.

The Falcons (1-Zero) on Saturday are visiting CU (2-Zero) — the 2 most adorned major-college soccer packages within the state — for the primary time since Oct. 13, 1973. If that doesn’t appear all that historic, take into account this:

• Since 1981, their second yr as a member of the Western Athletic Convention, the Falcons have performed at the least one Energy 5 soccer opponent on the street in 23 completely different seasons. From 1981-2018, Air Power visited Notre Dame 10 occasions, Northwestern 3 times, Washington and Michigan twice, and made one journey every to Oregon, Texas Tech, California, Tennessee, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Michigan State.

• Over a 38-year span, the Falcons logged an estimated 54,354 miles, round-trip, to tackle these final 22 Energy 5 video games.

• A trek from Colorado Springs to Boulder 22 occasions, 85 miles every method, would’ve added as much as about three,740 miles — a distinction of 50,614 miles.

“There had to have been enough spillover,” causes Sundquist, who captained the Falcons and later returned to serve on Fisher DeBerry’s employees as an assistant coach, “and enough animosity for the Academy to say, ‘We’ll turn our sights in another direction.’”

Which they did, a number of occasions over. Throughout Sundquist’s 4 seasons, 1980-83, the Falcons performed at Illinois, Washington, Oregon and Texas Tech. They went to South Bend twice. They even performed a recreation in Tokyo in opposition to San Diego State.

However they by no means performed in Boulder. It didn’t matter whether or not the Buffs have been good or iffy, whether or not CU was a nationwide participant or a flyover program.

“It was never indicated to me (why we didn’t play), other than they had an unfortunate incident that happened during the Vietnam War that was very sensitive to the administrators at the Academy,” explains DeBerry, who led the Falcons to 12 bowl berths as AFA’s coach from 1984-2006, the gold normal within the Wild Blue Yonder. “It was just an accepted thing, I guess.”

For the technology prior, that factor was one thing else fully. The Buffs and Falcons performed 16 consecutive seasons from 1958-74 and it was top-of-the-marquee stuff, a provincial rivalry that often landed on Thanksgiving weekend. The 1963 matchup, an emotional 17-14 Falcons win, had been moved to Dec. 7 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

A decade later, because the tenor of the nation had modified, the tone of the sequence did, too. Boulder had turn into one of many epicenters for anti-Vietnam Battle protests, and students-vs.-military stress on campuses ramped up considerably after the shootings at Kent State in 1970. Visiting AFA cadets have been disparaged round CU as emissaries of Nixon’s pro-war institution, and once they gathered at Folsom for the Buffs-Falcons video games in ’71 and ’73, they have been targets for all the things from insults to, based on The Lore, way over that.

“I didn’t notice that kind of nonsense; it didn’t translate on the field,” says Dave Logan, the previous CU star whose punt return for a landing in opposition to the Falcons in 1973 helped spark a 38-17 Buffs rout. “I always had great respect for the Academy and what they stood for. You knew that when you played them, it was going to be a 60-minute affair.”

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The quick reply to why the sequence is being resumed is Mike Bohn.

Détente within the CU-AFA sequence, at the least on the Buffs’ finish, was a staff effort, a baton handed throughout a number of administrations earlier than a two-game, home-and-home set — at Boulder in 2019, on the Academy in 2022 — was introduced 4 years in the past.

CU’s present athletic director, Rick George, received the ball over the road, so to talk. However among the observe had already been laid by Bohn, his predecessor from 2005-13, who’d additionally served as an affiliate athletic director on the Academy from 1984-92.

“I ran into (Bohn) when he was on a media tour in Greeley,” recollects Sean Conway, an Air Power fan and former president of the AFA Quarterback Membership of Denver. “And he said, ‘I have reached out and reached out and reached out down there. There is no interest by (Academy AD) Hans Mueh to reschedule that game.’”

Mueh — a 1966 AFA grad who, years earlier, was a type of cadets who’d been heckled in Boulder — retired from the Falcons athletic division in January 2015.

Lower than seven months later, The Freeze was over.

“That’s what’s important about the game,” says Conway, who was carrying AFA blue — with out harassment — at Folsom in 1973 whereas his future spouse, Rebecca, was wearing CU gold.

“That it’s not about what happened in 1973 anymore. It’s about two great traditions. Two great traditions who should be playing each other on a regular basis.”


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