Hollywood, California – It’s been a long time since the general public has been able to walk through the gates of Folsom Field to watch the Colorado Buffaloes play a football game.
It’s been even longer since Ralphie ran on the Folsom Field turf.
However the wait is almost over.
Athletic Director Rick George told BuffZone.com at Pac-12 Media Day that CU plans to make his debut for Ralphie VI when the Buffs open the season on Sept. 3 against Northern Colorado. Ralphie’s running plans are currently being finalized.
“We have a Ralphie,” said George. “I’m excited. Ralphie has been a part of our history for 50 years and we hope it continues.”
Ralph V retired after the 2019 season, but did not play in any of the final three home games of that season. The Ralphie V had become overly wired and was not responding to operator signals as usual, so it was deemed unsafe to continue driving.
Ralphie V led the football team on the field for 12 years before his retirement. His last run was on October 5, 2019, when the Buffs played Arizona.
That off-season, CU began the process of finding a replacement, but the COVID-19 pandemic played a key role in escalating that process. Even if Ralph VI was ready for the 2020 season, it would not have run due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
It wasn’t until this spring and summer, however, that CU was determined to have Ralphie VI ready.
“It was hard working with Ralphie during the pandemic, just because we didn’t have the time and there were some things that didn’t allow for group gatherings and things like that,” George said. “We’re right where we need to be, so I feel great about it. We love that[Ralphie’s program manager Taylor Stratton]Ney and his team and I think our fans will be excited.
CU introduced the Ralphies program in 1967 and the last five Ralphies have participated in 352 games – 296 at home, 24 bowl games, 19 Rocky Mountain Showdowns in Denver, nine road games, and four Big 12 championship games.
Ralphie I ran 78 times from 1967-78; Ralphie II ran 53 times from 1978-87; Ralphie III ran 73 times from 1987–97; Ralphie IV ran 75 times from 1998-2008; and Ralphie V ran 76 times from 2008-19.