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CSU football avoids stadium distractions by focusing on championship

In mid-July before Colorado State football players reported for fall camp, substantial completion of their new home was completed. The stadium itself had been constructed for months, but amenities like the locker room, practice facility and weight room had yet to be revealed to fans and players alike.

It was during this unveiling that fans began to see details that make this stadium what athletic director Joe Parker believes is the best in the nation. But from a player’s perspective, the unveiling meant much more. It was the first time that they got the opportunity to see what was being invested in them. Head coach Mike Bobo described the pride that his players displayed after seeing the facilities for the first time.

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“I think you saw the pride in our guys of what our university has built here, not just for our football players but for everybody,” Bobo said. “There’s a lot of pride in our football program right now because of this facility and what has been invested in this football program. At the same time, there’s responsibility and pressure, and I think that’s something that they’re embracing.”

With that pride comes the responsibility to live up to the lofty expectations surrounding CSU football. The Rams were picked to finish second in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. Given the returning talent on both sides of the ball, fans believe the Rams can do even more.

Combined with the excitement of the new stadium, lofty expectations could make it difficult for the Rams to maintain a level head. But senior wide receiver Detrich Clark understands CSU must stay grounded amid the commotion.

“I feel like there’s always expectations,” Clark said. “Of course the stadium raised the bar, but year in and year out there’s always high expectations from fans. Yes, the stadium raised the bar, but we expect ourselves to go out and win every Saturday.”

Playing in the newest stadium in the nation is not something that the Rams are taking lightly. It’s a privilege, and quarterback Nick Stevens realizes that. But it’s also not what will get the Rams to their ultimate goal of winning a championship. That duty falls on the team.

“Remaining focused on the goal, the goal is to win a conference championship,” Stevens said. “We’re incredibly blessed to be in this facility, but coach always says that a facility is not going to win us a championship. We still have to put that work in. I think we’ve done a really good job of that, of putting the work in and not getting caught up in all the new stuff and bells and whistles.”

In fact, it’s something that Bobo has been preaching throughout construction of the stadium.

“Like we’ve been saying since the new year, we’ve got a big responsibility this year,” Bobo said. “Our fans, our community, everybody is excited. But we as a football program have a big responsibility.”

That responsibility finally gets underway on Saturday Aug. 26 as the Rams open the stadium against Oregon State.

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Collegian sports editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.

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