Bu≠s with Texas ties relish a return trip
There’s Whataburger to dive into – and what a chance for No. 11 CU to keep showing it cuts the mustard.
boulder» It wasn’t as if Sam Kronshage had to choke down the cuisine from In-N-Out Burger after Colorado road wins at Stanford and Arizona this season.
As postgame refreshments go, it certainly beat orange slices and trail mix.
Still, CU’s junior offensive tackle opined to his teammates that the popular West Coast chain isn’t the holy grail of burger joints. There was something better out there, he contested.
“I’ve had to tell them Whataburger is way better, and now they are going to get to try it when we go out there,” Kronshage, who is from The Woodlands, Texas, said of the Buffs’ upcoming trip to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio to play Oklahoma State. “We’ll put the taste to the test.”
The chance to digest a literal taste of home is just one aspect of the bowl trip, which begins for the Buffs when they fly to San Antonio on Saturday, that has CU players and coaches with connections to the Lone Star State anticipating their postseason destination.
The rare trip to Texas, CU’s first since 2009, will serve as a homecoming for 10 Buffs, including five upperclassmen.
“It’s exciting to play your last college game in your home state,” said senior Jimmie Gilbert, who went to A&M Consolidated in College Station, 180 miles east of the Alamodome. “I’ve got a lot of family members coming to see me play. That’s a lot of people who don’t necessarily have the time or money to travel and see you play. So it gives them a chance to come out and see me.”
Kronshage committed to CU in 2013 without a trip to his home state anywhere on a future schedule. So the announcement three weeks ago that the No. 11 Buffs (10-3) would get to play a marquee game against No. 13 Oklahoma State (9-3) was a holiday surprise he never saw coming.
The Texas-heavy roster for the Cow-
boys — which includes five starters from San Antonio — gets plenty of chances to play in front of friends and family during trips through the Big 12. For the Buffs, this is something new.
“I’m super pumped about it,” the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Kronshage said. “When I committed, I didn’t think we’d get to play a game in Texas. I’m pumped to get back home, pumped to eat Whataburger again and pumped to be in the Texas air. I’m excited for it.”
The trip to San Antonio will also conjure positive memories for CU coach Mike MacIntyre, who served as the defensive backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys for four seasons from 2003-06.
During his first season, Dallas held training camp at the Alamodome. MacIntyre stayed at the Marriott on the River Walk less than a mile away from the stadium. He would head to work on his bike before the sun came up and then bike back after it had set.
“So I never saw the outside too much,” MacIntyre said with a laugh. “I went outside a few times. It’s really hot there in August, but the hospitality was great.”
MacIntyre learned firsthand about the worshiped nature of football in Texas at the end of that first training camp, which would be further cemented later when he watched 17,000 people show up to a high school football game near his family’s home in Southlake, Texas, outside Dallas.
“We played the Houston Texans, not in a preseason game but in a scrimmage,” MacIntyre recalled. “The Alamodome holds 68,000, and there were 68,000 people at the scrimmage for those two Texas teams. Everybody was there for a scrimmage. They couldn’t fit everybody in there. Football is important in Texas, there’s no doubt about it.”
Anticipation for the game among CU fans has been reflected in ticket sales. The school sold its allotment of 6,000 tickets and asked for about 500 more. And that’s primarily just an indication of how many fans plan to travel from Colorado. The school also expects much of its alumni base in the San Antonio area to flock to the Alamodome on Dec. 29.
“If it keeps going, the way it looks to me, we’ll have the most (fans) the Pac-12 has ever had at the game,” MacIntyre said. “That’s exciting. I hope more and more Buffs fans get excited and get down there. Maybe they’ll sit around at Christmas and say, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ We’d love to see everyone we can there. I know it means a lot to our players.”