Recently, an editorial was written by a student at West Texas A&M’s student newspaper “The Prairie” suggesting that trophies fuel rivalries, and Colorado State University-Pueblo should consider becoming a “rival” with the Buffaloes and even play for some sort of hardware.
Let me tell you why this should not, and could not happen.
Trophies, rings and other hardware should be reserved for one thing and one thing only: winning championships. The most important trophy that there is, of course, is the national championship trophy, which every school including CSU-Pueblo and West Texas A&M covets every year.
Other respectable trophies include conference trophies, of which the ThunderWolves have two of in the past two seasons, and are on the fast track to a three-peat in the coming weeks. Those are the type of trophies that put fans in the seats and keep the players and coaches working hard day in, and day out.
Furthermore, the best rivalries are those with rich traditions that date back to previous generations. Those are the games that the alumni show up to, reliving their own glory days to their peers and their children. For the ThunderWolves, these are games against conference opponents like Chadron State or Colorado Mesa.
Perhaps the best example of a rivalry for the ThunderWolves, though, is Adams State. The tale of the tape is self-explanatory; two schools separated by just over 100 miles that have met 30 times, with a back-and-forth advantage in the series.
For true rivalry games, hardware is unnecessary. The desire to beat the opponent, no matter where they are from, is enough to fuel the passion and great football that we see from week to week.
West Texas A&M is a respectable football program, a good football program. They came into the ThunderBowl and shocked everyone by defeating the ThunderWolves in the playoffs last December. But West Texas A&M is not our rival.
The ThunderWolves and Buffaloes have met three times, and there is the possibility that they could meet in the playoffs again this year, and in years to come.
Those are the games everyone wants to see; a playoff game, a win-or-go-home environment, between two of the most recognizable teams in Division II in the past few years.
An annual regular season game would water that down. If West Texas A&M wants to play CSU-Pueblo every year, they are going to have to make it into the tournament. And vice versa.
In that game, something much more important than a traveling, painted piece of memorabilia will be on the line: a win.