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Ralphie V leads the Colorado football team onto the field before a 2019 game at Folsom Field. CU is in the process of finding a successor to Ralphie V, who retired last season. But, athletic director Rick George said it's unlikely a buffalo will lead the team onto the field if there are games this fall.
Daily Camera
Ralphie V leads the Colorado football team onto the field before a 2019 game at Folsom Field. CU is in the process of finding a successor to Ralphie V, who retired last season. But, athletic director Rick George said it’s unlikely a buffalo will lead the team onto the field if there are games this fall.

If the Colorado football team does play games this season, it’s unlikely that one of the program’s great traditions will take place.

During a CU athletics webinar on Tuesday, athletic director Rick George was asked about the chances of having Ralphie, the school’s live mascot, leading the team onto the field this season.

“Right now, I wouldn’t anticipate that there will be much going on on the field, other than the football players, the officials and those that are required to be there,” he said. “We want to make sure that we do this right, and so we’re going through those protocols, but right now I would say the chances (of Ralphie running) aren’t great, just because of the social distancing and the coronavirus and all those kind of things. We’re going to be very careful about how we lay that out this fall.”

At this point, CU doesn’t officially have a Ralphie in place. Last year, Ralphie V, a buffalo named “Blackout” retired after nearly 12 years of leading the team onto the field.

For the past several months, CU’s Ralphie handlers been working with a buffalo it believes can become Ralphie VI, but that animal has not officially been announced as Ralphie V’s successor.

Schedule shift in 2021

George said the Buffs’ 2021 trip to Oregon will be changed to a home game for the Buffs, which allows CU to avoid three consecutive years of traveling to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

CU lost at Oregon, 45-3, last year and was originally scheduled to host the Ducks at Folsom Field in the conference opener this year, on Sept. 26. When the Pac-12 announced a revised, 10-game football schedule last week, it included moving the Sept. 26 game to Autzen Stadium. The change was made in an effort to give each team five home games.

“It was best for the conference,” George said. “I support it. Not happy about it, but I support it.”

Overall, George said he likes the schedule CU has lined up for this season.

“I think it’s a good schedule,” he said. “It was one of those that the conference has done a really good job of working with our teams to make sure that we got a schedule that we think is fair and consistent across the board.”

Looking ahead to 2021, the Buffs already had seven home games lined up, not counting Oregon’s visit. In Folsom Field history, the Buffs have had as many as seven home games just twice: in 1978 (eight) and 1982 (seven).

Asked if there could be more changes to the 2021 slate, George told BuffZone: “We are uncertain what the conference schedule will look like.”

Last week, George and Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork confirmed that the two schools have discussed moving their Sept. 11, 2021, game from Folsom Field to Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. That has not been finalized, however.

Impressed with Dorrell

George felt confident in hiring Karl Dorrell has head football coach in February. He’s been impressed in watching the first-year head coach navigate a tough offseason.

“It is unprecedented,” George said. “He probably had 15 days before COVID hit that he was in the job.

“What I’ve learned about Karl is he’s going to maintain a calm and I think you’re going to see that in his team and his players. He knows what he’s doing and he knows what the vision is. He knows what the plan is and I think his student-athletes do. I think they’ve rallied around him and I’m looking forward to this football team and what they’re going to be able to achieve.”

Notable

In an effort to cut athletic department costs, some schools are eliminating incentive bonuses for coaches. BuffZone asked George about CU’s handling of bonuses this year and, through an athletic department spokesperson, he said, “We have not addressed that yet and all options are on the table.” … George said the academic results of the Buffs’ student-athletes during the spring and the first session of summer school was “outstanding,” adding, “It’s that collaboration that we have on campus that I think is allowing us to achieve the success that we’re having and our student-athletes are thriving. Our responsibility is to make sure that we continue to do the things necessary that allow them to succeed.”

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