CU's future opponents
Non-conference football games that Colorado has slated for future years:
2016: Sept. 2 - vs. Colorado State (Denver); Sept. 10 - vs. Idaho State; Sept. 17 - at Michigan
2017: Sept. 2 - vs. CSU (Denver); Sept. 9 - vs. Texas State; Sept. 16 - vs. Northern Colorado
2018: Sept. 1 - vs. CSU (Denver); Sept. 8 - at Nebraska; Sept. 15 - vs. New Hampshire
2019: Aug. 31 - vs. CSU (Denver); Sept. 7 - vs. Nebraska; Sept. 14 - vs. Fresno State
2020: Sept. 5 - at CSU; Sept. 12 - vs. Air Force; Sept. 19 - at Texas A&M
2021: Sept. 4 - vs. UMass; Sept. 11 - vs. Texas A&M; Sept. 18 - vs. Minnesota
2022: Sept. 3 - vs. TCU; Sept. 10 - at Air Force; Sept. 17 - at Minnesota
2023: Sept. 2 - at TCU; Sept. 9 - vs. Nebraska
2024: Sept. 7 - at Nebraska
2025: Aug. 30 - vs. Georgia Tech
2026: Sept. 5 - at Georgia Tech
Back in March, Colorado announced a future set of football games with Georgia Tech.
Should be a fun home-and-home set, but it's nearly a decade away. Tough to get too excited about anything scheduled that far in advance, and it's quite possible that both schools will have different coaches and administrators when they meet in 2025 and 2026.
Still, the practice of scheduling games that far out is one that's gone on for a while and won't go away any time soon, according to CU associate athletic director David Plati.
"(Schools) are doing it to protect themselves from being behind the 8-ball where there's either no good opponents or no logical opponents you'd want to schedule," Plati said. "It's basically market-driven that you don't want to sit there and, oh my God, everyone else has a full schedule or nearly a full schedule and there's no really good, attractive, marquee teams to do a home and home with."
College football is unique is this practice. College basketball teams are often scheduling games just a few months before the season and rarely schedule more than a couple years out. Plati said football teams have been scheduling years in advance for a while, even back to the 1970s.
CU's non-conference slate is already filled through 2022, and there's just one slot open for 2023. In fact, the Buffs are the only Pac-12 team that has filled the entire non-conference slate through 2022. Many Pac-12 schools have opponents to find for 2020 and 2021.
"We're actually in pretty good shape," Plati said. "We're not going to be scrambling to find anybody."
There's been a recent rush of future games scheduled around the country because some conferences are mandating their teams to schedule Power Five conference opponents.
"I've heard from at least 10 schools that want to play us," Plati said.
CU tries to schedule opponents that might have interest to fans, and the Buffs also try to reach as much of the country as possible so that alumni can watch them play. Georgia Tech was scheduled because CU hasn't played in the southeast since 2009, so when the Buffs go there in 2026, it'll be 17 years between visits to that area of the country. In 2014, they played at Massachusetts, making their first trip to the northeast since 1977.
"Our philosophy has always been, when was the last time we went to a certain part of the country?" Plati said. "We had a great turnout (at UMass). There were only like 10,000 people at the game, but 5,000 of the fans were ours."
Plati said there is a home-and-home set with another school that's in the contract phase that'll be announced in the coming weeks.
As for the Rocky Mountain Showdown with Colorado State, that series is set to temporarily end after the meeting in 2020. The Buffs and Rams won't play in 2021 or 2022, but CU is keeping a spot open for that game in 2023 and beyond.
"Obviously (CU athletic director Rick George) and (CSU athletic director Joe Parker) need to get together and talk about the future of CU-CSU, but there's a spot for CSU every year from 2023 out right now," Plati said. "We're not going to fill those in until they meet again and figure out the game plan for the future of that series."
When CU joined the Pac-12 during the summer of 2010, it caused some schedule scrambling for the Buffs. CU had future home-and-home sets with a handful of Pac-12 schools (Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, Washington and UCLA) that had to be canceled, causing CU to look elsewhere to fill in the gaps. CU will visit Michigan this fall, but Michigan won't be coming back to Boulder. That single game was set up in 2012 through ESPN, and because CU doesn't get a home game out of the deal, it was paid $1.45 million to play. CU used that money to cover buyouts for former coaches.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.