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Colorado State Fires Head Coach Steve Addazio

James Murphy
by in NCAAF on
  • Colorado State has fired head coach Steve Addazio after just two seasons.
  • Addazio amassed a 4-12 record during his brief tenure in Fort Collins.
  • The Rams lost their season finale to Nevada on Saturday by a lopsided score of 52-10 with Addazio ejected for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’.

There was much chatter in the media this week about what a horrible guy former Notre Dame/new LSU head coach Brian Kelly is in real life. It’s hard to distinguish how much of this is valid criticism and how much is simply projection by Notre Dame fanboys that Kelly would want to coach anywhere but South Bend. There is one firm reality that applies to every profession–if you’re going to be a jerk you’ve got to produce results. Kelly and Alabama coach Nick Saban might not be the nurturing sort but they put ‘W’s’ on the scoreboard and elite recruits in the lineup. Right or wrong, they’ve reached the level that they can act like spoiled divas. There’s nothing sadder than watching someone try and play the ‘do you know who I am?’ card when nobody knows and/or cares.

This brings us to Steve Addazio. Addazio has been fired after two seasons as head coach of Colorado State University. During his run in Fort Collins he amassed a 4-12 record. In the COVID shortened 2020 season the Rams went 1-3 beating Wyoming at home in the ‘Border War’ rivalry game. This year, they went 3-9 SU/4-8 ATS with their only victories coming at Toledo, at home against San Diego State and at New Mexico. They actually were 3-3 overall and 2-0 in Mountain West play following the victory over the Lobos but finished the season on a 6 game losing streak culminating in an ugly 52-10 loss to Nevada at home on Saturday.

It’s funny how hesitant anyone is to use the word ‘fired’ in reference to a head coach that is no longer going to be with the football program going forward. There’s no shortage of de facto firings that are publicly referred to as ‘parting ways by mutual decision’. The press release from Colorado State making the announcement about Addazio doesn’t suggest that the decision was ‘mutual’ but does announce the firing in the most gentle way imaginable:

After an extensive review of the Colorado State football program, Director of Athletics Joe Parker has determined that head coach Steve Addazio will not return for the 2022 season.

The title of the press release doesn’t even mention Addazio by name, saying only ‘Colorado State Football Announces Change in Leadership’. The coach’s name is in the subheading which gently informs the reader ‘Steve Addazio concludes his Colorado State tenure after two seasons’. They didn’t even slap Addazio’s mug on the story, instead going with a picture of the stadium surrounded by the beautiful Colorado mountains:

The rest of the press release makes Addazio’s tenure in Fort Collins sound somewhat successful–or as successful as possible given the reality of a 4-12 record. Much effort is spent scapegoating the COVID-19 pandemic for the Rams’ 1-3 record in 2020. There might be some truth to this but it’s not like the pandemic was isolated to the Intermountain West. Every team in the country had to deal with it in one way or another but that doesn’t stop the CSU press release from all but giving Addazio a pass for a lousy performance not even mentioning his pitiful 1-3 record with three losses by a combined score of 119-55:

In his initial campaign, which was marred by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Addazio’s Rams played just four games and only one at home – a thrilling victory over Wyoming to bring The Bronze Boot back to Fort Collins for the first time since 2015.

For the 2021 season, the press release employs a misdirection play leading with the 6 game losing streak and 3-9 record before trying to divert the reader’s attention to the success of individual players:

The Rams began the 2021 season with consecutive home losses but battled back to 3-3 overall which included opening 2-0 in Mountain West play for the first time since 2017. However, the program finished the year on a six-game slide to finish 3-9.

Individual success was plentiful under Addazio in 2021 as senior tight end Trey McBride set the school’s career and single-season records for receptions and yards by a tight end. The John Mackey Award finalist, a first in program history, finished the year with the fifth-most yards in a season by a tight end in FBS history. Specialists Ryan Stonehouse, Cayden Camper, and Ross Reiter all appeared as semifinalists for national awards at their respective positions, making Colorado State the only program in the country to have such a trio.

Along the way, Camper set the single-season record for made field goals, and Stonehouse set the single-season program record, career program record, and FBS career record for punt average. Colorado State’s defensive front also tallied the most sacks since 1987 and set a program record for sack yardage.

The bar is set pretty low at Colorado State. They’ve never really had a good football program with the exception of the early part of Sonny Lubick’s tenure from 1993-2007. Lubick guided the Rams to a winning record in 1994 through 2003 along with six conference championships (3 each in the WAC and Mountain West Conference) and 9 bowl appearances. Colorado State has been playing football since 1893 and before Lubick arrived they won more than 7 games in a season just three times. They’ve done it twice since.

Colorado State Athletic Director Joe Parker gave Addazio this sendoff:

“The decision we have made today is not one we take lightly. I am grateful to Steve Addazio and his coaching staff for their steadfast commitment to our student-athletes, both athletically and academically, to developing men of high character, and reinvigorating our locker room with a culture of toughness and accountability. However, after a thorough review of where our program stands today and our outlook for the future, looking at the totality of factors, I felt this was a necessary step.”

“Our expectation is to compete for conference championships and reach bowl eligibility each season. Our student-athletes deserve that, our fans deserve that, our community deserves that, and our University deserves that. We live in one of America’s best cities, serve a world-class university, and I am confident we will find a stalwart leader who can meet those expectations head on.”

What Parker *doesn’t* say is that Addazio received no benefit of the doubt as he has a track record of being a complete jerk while being a lousy coach. That doesn’t work. Addazio was ejected from Saturday’s blowout loss to Nevada for receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. If you’re thinking that you’ve never seen a coach ejected for this reason that’s because Addazio is only the second ever BCS coach to be ejected from a game for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalities since the rule changed in 2016:

The bit in Parker’s send off about ‘commitment to developing men of high character’ is pretty funny. His time in Fort Collins began with the hallmark of a high character coach–being accused of racism and verbal abuse. Before that, there was another scandal in which football coaches were accused of a COVID-19 cover up. Here’s a good recount of the story from the local newspaper:

CSU football players and university athletic department staff say coaches have told players not to report COVID-19 symptoms, threatened players with reduced playing time if they quarantine and claim CSU is altering contact tracing reports to keep players practicing.

And they say those actions by the athletic administration is putting their health at risk in return for monetary gain the school would receive if fall sports are played.

Football players said they would like to play this season but don’t believe there should be a season given the spike in positive cases on the team in the past two weeks and the threat of more once Colorado State’s full student body comes to campus later this month.

“I believe there is a cover-up going on at CSU,” said a current football player who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “But they could only cover it up so long and now that we have so many cases across athletics, they can’t cover it up anymore. It’s not about the health and safety of the players but about just trying to make money off the players.”

Said an athletic department staff member: “There are some red flags in the athletic department but the common denominator with this administration is to protect the coaches before the student-athletes and that makes them feel more like cattle than student-athletes.”

Addazio kept his job after an independent investigation but his coaching didn’t improve. Nor did his behavior, at least according to another story that accuses Addazio of making racially derogatory comments toward a custodian while threatening his job–all while playing the ‘do you know who I am’ card:

“The custodian told the investigator that prior to the altercation he was cleaning a restroom in CSU’s football facility, and part of the process requires chemicals that need to “dwell” for a certain period of time. During that time, the custodian blocked the bathroom with a cart while cleaning other areas of the office.

Upon returning to the restroom and beginning to clean the sink area, the custodian alleged that Addazio entered and prepared to use the restroom. The custodian said he told Addazio it was closed, to which the coach continued and said, “I guess I’m going to use it.”

The custodian, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation when contacted by the Coloradoan, said he replied, “I guess my job doesn’t matter.”

He claims Addazio then turned and said, “What did you say to me, boy?” at which point the custodian again said, “I guess my job doesn’t matter.” The custodian told the investigator that Addazio then followed him out of the restroom and said, “I don’t think you know who I am, boy. I run this building.”

According to the same article, Addazio wouldn’t have been considered for the Colorado State job were it not for the influence of Urban Meyer–at one point an assistant coach in Fort Collins:

The good ol’ boy network has served Addazio well. His career head coaching record of 61-67 didn’t really have folks beating down his door to hire him after leaving BC.

Urban Meyer’s friendship and influence weighed heavily, as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach was once a CSU assistant.

Meyer used that influence to help Addazio — who worked for him at Florida — land the job. Meyer is undoubtedly a great coach, but he has a borderline hideous record when it comes to making coaching hires. For that reason alone, the hire should have been more scrutinized.

Especially considering the fallout from Meyer’s decision to support Ohio State coach Zach Smith despite knowing that the guy was beating the heck out of his wife. That entire situation hit the fan in 2019, but Meyer escaped any real culpability.

The moral of the story? You can’t play the ‘do you know who I am’ card if you’re a coach with a career record of 61-67. AD Parker says that the program wants to have a new head coach in place by the start of the early signing period on December 15.

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