The 2013 Colorado spring game at Folsom Field on Saturday will be a history-making event in a lot of ways for the program.
We're not talking moon-landing significance here, but it will be a day of firsts for sure.
Coach Mike MacIntyre and all nine of his full-time assistants will get their first taste of what it will be like on future autumn Saturdays to run behind Ralphie on to the field. The Buffs have certainly had their struggles of late, but there is no denying they continue to have one of the coolest mascots and traditions in the college game.
"I'm excited about running out behind Ralphie," MacIntyre said. "I was told don't try to keep up with Ralphie or I'll pull a hamstring. ... I hope I get to run out behind Ralphie a lot of times is what I hope. That will be fun."
This year's game will also be the first in the history of CU football to be televised, and it's not just a mom-and-pop local broadcast. The hard work the Buffs have put in through the first 13 practices of spring will be on display for a national audience across the Pac-12 platform with the game being the first of five in the conference to be televised on the network Saturday.
The Pac-12 is the only conference in the nation to have each of its spring games televised.
Instead of sending the regular crews to do each game from the booth at the stadium as they do in the fall, the Pac-12 Network plans to have Mike Yam, former CU coach Rick Neuheisel and Curtis Conway offer commentary on the game and each program from the studio in San Francisco. In addition, the network will have sideline reporters at each game doing in-game interviews with coaches, players, notable alumni in attendance and others.
"Our goal is to showcase all the teams and provide as much as access as possible with a roving reporter who will be down on the sideline interviewing anyone and everyone that will talk to us," Pac-12 Network coordinator producer Kyle Reischling said.
MacIntyre said he is not concerned that having the spring game televised gives the first three opponents of the season -- CSU, Central Arkansas and Fresno State -- and opportunity to scout the Buffs. He said those opponents already have all the film they need to handle that job from his past three seasons at San Jose State. However, MacIntyre did say the Buffs will hold quite a bit back Saturday.
Neuheisel said if he was still coaching in the conference, he wouldn't be concerned with having the spring game televised.
"I think what (MacIntyre) is going to want to do is entertain the people who come out to the spring game," Neuheisel said. "He's going to let his playmakers hopefully show that there is reason for optimism for Colorado football. I think that will be his No. 1 goal on Saturday."
CU plans to have a standard game, including live special teams plays. Players and coaches chose sides Thursday with one team being led by junior quarterback Nick Hirschman and the other side led by fellow junior quarterback Connor Wood.
It seems clear based on reviews offered by MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren that those two players will conclude spring ball as the frontrunners to earn the starting job against Colorado State in the season opener. In case you missed it, the Mountain West Conference announced Thursday that the CU-CSU game has been moved to Sunday, Sept. 1.
"I love spring games, being on Folsom and finally putting the uniform back on after so long," Hirschman said. "So the spring game is an incredibly big deal to me and it's really important to me."
Wood also is excited for the opportunity to show how he has improved since last season. The fact that his friends and family members back home in Texas don't have to fly in to watch only adds to that feeling.
MacIntyre said following Thursday's practice that the spring game will play a big role in how coaches evaluate the team's progress this spring and establish a depth chart going into fall camp in August.
"Coach MacIntyre said it's going to be a pretty important evaluation event," Wood said.
The fact that CU is playing it straight makes it easy on the Pac-12 Network. Some programs use unusual scoring systems that can be difficult to follow for a television audience.
"What's happening on the field for each school, determining that and getting clarity is something that we've needed to talk to the schools about to get a handle on what we can be expecting to see," Reischling said.
Brenna Webb communications manager at Pac-12 Enterprises said the conference is committed to televising spring games in the future and the network expects to learn a lot this spring that should make future spring game broadcasts better.
"We really don't know what to expect because we don't have anything to compare it to," Webb said. "It's an interesting question and I think this will be a jumping off point for us to see where we can improve and ways we can work with the schools in terms of the promotion of the games as we move forward."
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleRingo