In the 1950s, when Colorado State University filmed its football games, promotional spots about various aspects of the University were added to the middle of some of the films, as a halftime break from the action.
The promos highlighted things like CSU’s highly ranked veterinary medicine and occupational therapy programs. There’s even one of former CSU President William Morgan talking about the need to expand campus westward by adding residence halls and recreation areas.
“Extremely conservative estimates indicate that within 10 years, about 8,000 students will be attending Colorado A&M,” Morgan says in the film. “It is our goal to give these young men and women the best possible education. To meet the demand of increasing enrollment, new facilities have to be built.”
The snippets of footage are among the gems that film producer Frank Boring has collected as he creates a documentary in honor of CSU’s 150th birthday, to be released next spring.
This is part of a series of monthly stories about some of the things uncovered by film producer Frank Boring, who is poring over CSU’s film archives as he works on a documentary about the University’s history in honor of its 150th anniversary. For more stories, an interactive photo slider and a quiz on CSU lore, visit csu150.colostate.edu.
Boring got six original 16-millimeter football game films from the 1955 and 1956 seasons from CSU athletics historian John Hirn (B.A., ’93), author of Aggies to Rams: The History of Football at Colorado State University.
Audiovisual presentation specialist Bryan Rayburn, who’s working with Boring on the documentary, explained how he and Boring found out about the films. Pete Waack, chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain Student Media, gave Rayburn a stack of DVDs that Hirn had provided him to show on CTV.
“While I was sorting through a giant stack of early games — which were all silent films — and converting them to a proper streaming format, all of a sudden I got audio, and then discovered these short promo segments embedded in the halftime break,” Rayburn said. “There were four different ones located in four random football games. Then Pete Waack connected us with John Hirn, and he said that he had the original 16-millimeter film reels in his possession, and that we could take them and have them professionally scanned, which we did. Unfortunately, only three of the four segments were within the reels we got, but the other segment I was able to upscale from the DVD I originally received from Pete.”
Films saved by former player
Hirn had received the films about eight years ago from the late Jerry Callahan, CSU’s quarterback in the mid-‘50s who went on to become a legendary high school football coach in Yuma. Callahan saved the films in the 1970s, when he was serving as director of athletic development for the University and the athletics department was cleaning out its archives.
“The middle of these films are great, because they tie athletics to non-athletic things,” Hirn said, explaining that these films must have been shown publicly after the game, at a local theater or on television.
The video above begins with halftime excerpts from those black-and-white football films, and ends with color footage from a few years later espousing the many positive qualities of the University. The early footage refers to “Colorado A&M,” but the last part refers to “Colorado State University,” meaning it was filmed after the name change in 1957.
“On the western edge of picturesque Fort Collins in northern Colorado, where the Great Plains meet the Rockies, lies the campus of Colorado State University, a mile high and handsome,” the narrator says in the opening of the color footage. “It’s a friendly school, Colorado State University, because its climate, the scenic beauty of its campus, and its people just plain generate friendship.”
Behind Reel CSU Stories
This is part of a series about the stories uncovered by film producer Frank Boring and audiovisual presentation specialist Bryan Rayburn, who are going through CSU’s film archives to compile a documentary about the University’s first 150 years. For more stories, an interactive photo slider and a quiz on CSU lore, visit csu150.colostate.edu. For an in-depth look at how the colleges of CSU have carried on the land-grant mission through the decades, go to source.colostate.edu/csu-150/.