This past week, the Colorado football program announced a two-game set with Northwestern in the next decade, and the announcement naturally has led to some curiosity about the future of the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

CU's future schedule is filling up, but the Buffs are not currently scheduled to play rival Colorado State after 2020, and won't play the Rams in 2021 or 2022.

"(CSU athletic director Joe Parker) and I, we continue to have discussions on that and talking about continuing that game in the future," George told Buffzone.com this week. "We just haven't finalized what that looks like yet."

The 2020 game, to be played in Fort Collins, will end a 26-year run of the RMS. CU's schedule is filled for 2021 and 2022, but the Buffs have openings from 2023 and beyond.

In 2023, the Buffs are scheduled to open at TCU, and then host Nebraska, but have an open date in Week 3 that could be filled by the Rams.

"That's certainly when we're looking at," George said. "I think we'd both like to finalize something soon. There's a lot of other things going on and we just haven't been able to finalize what that looks like."

While it's not certain when the series would resume, it's certain that a new agreement won't include games in Denver. The 2019 game will be the 10th in a row in Denver — and 19th overall.

"We won't have any future games in Denver with CSU in any kind of new relationship," George said.


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The 2020 game is in Fort Collins because the current contract was written up to include the Rams hosting in the final year. The Rams have been to Boulder four times (1997, 2004, 2005 and 2009) since CU's last trip to Fort Collins, in 1996.

Asked if he felt it was important for CU to play the rival Rams, George said, "I think it's important to play Air Force and important to play games like that on the Front Range with different teams."

CU will play Air Force in 2019 and 2022 — the first games against the Falcons since 1974. This year, Northern Colorado comes to Boulder, marking the first meeting between those teams since 1934.

Adding the two games against Northwestern — to be played in Chicago on Sept. 19, 2026, and in Boulder on Sept. 11, 2027 — continues a trend for CU of scheduling Power 5 opponents for its non-conference games.

CU currently has 25 non-conference games scheduled from 2018-2028, 16 of those against Power 5 conference teams.

"With this College Football Playoff game now, there's a lot of discussion on strength of schedules," George said. "We certainly don't want to over-schedule ourselves, but at the same time, we want to be in a position as we continue to compete on a yearly basis for championships, we want to be in the conversation. We don't want the schedule to be a deterrent to us longer term."

While it's difficult to project how the CFP will be constructed in a decade, George said scheduling Power 5 teams puts CU in a good position for whatever changes to the system might occur.

"If they do change and (schedule strength) becomes a more important factor, we want to be a position to be ready for that," George said. "You also have to look at it from a business perspective. We certainly will look at FCS opponents, but I think scheduling more Power 5 schools and others, like the CSU games and Air Force games, those make sense."

From a business perspective, scheduling opponents such as Northwestern and Georgia Tech (in 2025 and 2026) will allow the Buffs to reach more fans and alumni around the country.

Playing in the northeast, as the Buffs did in 2014 with a trip to Massachusetts, is a priority, as well, but George said that doesn't have to necessarily be done through football.

Notable

CU is still in the process of finding a replacement for Kurt Gulbrand, who left CU this summer after nearly six years as associate athletic director for development. Gulbrand, who was George's right-hand man for fundraising, went to Tennessee in June. ... CU is finalizing a plan for using multi-year contracts for its coaches, and George said he hopes to be able to present a plan to the Board of Regents at their scheduled meeting Sept. 7-8. New state legislation, which went into effect earlier this month, allows CU to give more multi-year deals to staff members. "We've done without them, so we don't want to be in a hurry and just throw them out there," George said. "We want to do it diligently."

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.