Rams fill void on 2011 football schedule with UTEP
Nov. 10, 2010
By Zak Gilbert
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State has agreed to a two-year football agreement with Texas-El Paso, Director of Athletics Paul Kowalczyk announced Wednesday.
The newest contract, which begins with a date in El Paso, Texas, on Oct. 22 next season, fills the unexpected non-conference vacancy on CSU’s schedule created when future Mountain West Conference additions Nevada, No. 21 in this week’s polls, and Fresno State announced on Oct. 28 they would remain in the Western Athletic Conference until the 2012 football season. Boise State, the No. 4 team in this week’s polls, will enter the Mountain West in 2011 and could come to Fort Collins next season, but the league will have only eight teams until the following year.
Head Coach Steve Fairchild, who played UTEP as a CSU quarterback from 1978-80, and game planned against the Miners as a CSU assistant from 1993-98, is excited about having the Miners on his schedule.
“Anytime we can play a non-conference game in the state of Texas, it’s huge,” he said. “Texas is a major recruiting base for us.”
UTEP will give the Rams a fifth non-conference opponent for the first time since 1967, when the Rams were an independent program before both CSU and UTEP joined the WAC in 1968.
In turn, UTEP will play in Fort Collins on Sept. 8, 2018. The athletic departments already had agreed to a home-and-home series with dates on Sept. 21, 2013, in Fort Collins, and Sept. 20, 2014, in El Paso.
The two schools share a rich history, having met 33 times. UTEP, currently coached by Mike Price, is now a Conference USA team, but the Miners and Rams were each in the WAC from 1968-98, when CSU left for the newly formed Mountain West. The Rams, who own a 24-9 series advantage, last met UTEP in 1998. The teams first played in 1963.
The addition of UTEP to the 2011 schedule concludes weeks of searching that began long before Oct. 28, with contingency plans in the event Fresno State and Nevada would remain in the WAC for one more season and leave the Rams with just seven conference games in 2011. CSU spoke to dozens of potential opponents, including Purdue from the Big Ten, as well as Big 12 and Pac 10 teams, but in the end couldn’t align mutual open dates. The Rams did not speak to Football Championship Subdivision institutions.
The Rams are hopeful that when the conference schedule is announced by the Mountain West, they will have a bye week at some point next season.