‘Comatose’ bringing the noise for homecoming

story by Joe Giordano

published Oct. 6, 2020

Video by CSU Alumni Association

COVID-19 interrupted the fall rhythms of several long-standing traditions at Colorado State University last year, which included the silencing of one of the University’s longest and loudest — the firing of the 75mm field gun known as “Comatose” at Canvas Stadium.

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the bombastic tradition, led by CSU Army ROTC cadets. But the field gun — which regularly attracts alumni and University community members as guest cannoneers — went quiet for more than 20 months.

Now as the homecoming game nears, several traditions are back — including the firing of Comatose, which had an active September at two home football games.

For Lt. Col. Matthew Tillman, who leads the CSU Army ROTC program, the firing of Comatose last month signaled the return of many traditions and experiences that he enjoyed as a cadet and student at CSU.

“The cadets are fired up to be doing things that make college, college,” said Tillman, a 2004 graduate who participated in the ROTC push-up crew as a student at football games. “We had face-to-face classes last year, but to be able to add the extracurricular things makes it extra special.”

Tillman added that it’s not just limited to football, noting that the cadets have been active at other CSU Athletics events, including soccer and volleyball this semester.

Getting Comatose ready

Reintroducing Comatose as a tradition wasn’t easy, Tillman said. The field gun’s dormancy meant that some institutional knowledge in working and preparing the cannon had to be relearned.

“We had to figure out how to put the cannon back together,” Tillman said. “We had to call in one of the seniors from last year who’s a fifth-year engineering student to help us. It was a huge sense of relief when the test fire happened.”

ROTC cadet Owen King, a senior majoring in business administration, currently oversees the six-person team that shoots the field cannon during football games.

“The biggest thing about homecoming is celebrating your school. The cannon is a big part of that, and it’s cool to be part of that.”

— ROTC Cadet Owen King

For King, he said that the reintroduction of Comatose will be one of the memories he will fondly remember after graduation. Until then, he’s hoping it gets a lot of use during this week’s homecoming game and beyond.

“The biggest thing about homecoming is celebrating your school,” King said. “The cannon is a big part of that, and it’s cool to be part of that.”

When does CSU fire the cannon at home football games?

 45 minutes before kickoff to mark the end of tailgating

During the National Anthem (during the line “Bombs bursting in air”)

When the Rams run out from the locker room and take the field

Starting kickoff

Every touchdown and field goal

At halftime (only is CSU is winning)

End of the game (if CSU wins)