Love and Border War
LARAMIE -- "Too bad that's ours now."
That's what the first message read, followed by a digital laugh.
Frank Crum posted a photo on social media of himself and former offensive lineman Alonzo Velazquez holding the Bronze Boot, the traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Border War football game between Wyoming and Colorado State.
The year was 2020, the only time the Cowboys have lost to their bitter rivals to the south over the last seven meetings.
That's what prompted the comment. It came courtesy of a CSU sorority girl.
"As much as I hate losing the boot -- which I do -- I'm not sure if I ever would've met Caitlin," Crum said, a smile creasing his face. "That's our first words, she was trash talking."
That heckler is now his fiancé.
Caitlin Brown said football is in her blood. A Georgia native, antagonizing the opponent is simply second nature. In fact, that playful banter is what landed her on Crum's social media account in the first place.
"I always sat in the front row at CSU games and they put the visiting team in front of the student section," she recalled with a laugh. "I was chirping it up, trying to get under their skin. That's the first time I made eye contact with Frank."
He remembers the moment well.
Freshman rarely travel to away games, especially when they are redshirting. Craig Bohl told the rookies they could travel on their own to Canvas Stadium for the 2018 game. Standing in street clothes and wearing his jersey, admittedly, Crum wasn't "too locked in" to what was happening on the field in front of him.
He had his eyes on the brunette in the Rams shirt.
"I saw her in the stands and I asked her for her Snapchat," he said, followed by a slight shoulder shrug. "I think it was halftime. I was surprised she actually gave it to me. I turned around -- it was probably 20 yards away -- I was just trying to lip read and memorize the letters of her Snapchat. I memorized it until after the game when I had my phone again.
"It didn't really go anywhere from there."
Brown tells a different story.
"He had his phone," she said. "Kind of a no-no to have a phone on the sidelines. He pointed at me and asked for my Snapchat. I typed it on my phone and blew it up really big. Nothing came of it for three years. We didn't talk, but I still remembered him."
Bohl smiled and simply shook his head when he heard about how this love story came to fruition.
"I was not even aware of that," Wyoming's head coach said. "Thanks for bringing that up. I didn't know that he's engaged and she's wearing brown and gold. I know that."
Crum, three years later, finally asked Brown on a date (That's the way she recalls it, anyway). She made the 65-mile drive up Highway 287. They cruised around Laramie, dropped by the stadium and eventually had dinner at Rib and Chop House. Before the two got out of the car, he had a warning for her.
"It's kind of funny. I don't know if he wants me saying this, but when we were in the parking lot, he said, 'just to let you know, a lot of people might want to say hi to me,'" she said with a smile. "I'm thinking this guy is a fool.
"So, many came up to him."
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Not only does Crum stand 6-foot-8, 315-pounds, he's a Laramie native. Brown wasn't just dating a Wyoming football player, Crum is a third-generation Cowboy. His grandfather Earl Crum lettered for the program in 1940. His father Gary Crum was an offensive guard from 1979-81.
"I think its pretty awesome," she added. "I had no idea."
The green-and-gold clothing was soon replaced. That CSU degree she worked so hard for, yeah, that's still packed away in the garage of the couple's home, she said.
"It's not even hung up," she joked. "He wouldn't allow it."
Brown said her friends didn't give her much flack for dating Crum. They were mostly bummed that she always seemed to be in Laramie. He said his family, at first, was leery. Hey, it comes with this rivalry. That skepticism was quickly -- very quickly -- replaced by love and admiration.
Last March, Crum took Brown to an old ski slope off of Happy Jack Road near Vedauwoo. The couple had gone sledding in the area before. Her parents were in town from Florida for what she thought was a quick visit.
They were instead there for a surprise engagement party.
"He did a great job," she said of Crum, who dropped to a knee in the snow and asked for her hand in marriage. "He did it all himself."
The same can't be said for wedding planning.
While Crum's focus is on claiming the Bronze Boot for a fifth time and limiting the league's most dominant edge rusher, Mo Kamara, Brown is constantly on the phone with vendors.
The two are set to be married July 6 at the Buckeye Ranch outside of Centennial.
"Obviously, you know, I'm very appreciative that she's taken a lot of this on just because of my time constraints and all that," Crum said. "I think it'll be a special day."
There could be another one of those Friday night when the Cowboys and Rams hook up for the 115th time in this rivalry's storied history.
One thing is for certain, Brown will be at full throat for her newly-adopted team.
"It's kind of almost like an anniversary and the first time we ever met," Crum said. "It's a cool story that this rivalry game brought us together. I know it means a lot to her -- and she definitely wants the Cowboys to win."
"I love it here," she said. "I think it's so much fun. The people here are great and it's a different environment. I'll always support Frank. You'll never see me in that green and gold."
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.