Tag Archives: Colorado State

Did Colorado State Deserve a Better Seed and a Better Matchup?

Welcome to the initial posting of Tuesdays With Mitch. This will be a little different than the old blog. New name, new format and a new commitment with a post each Tuesday. Enough about that, we have a lot to get to. Let’s jump in.

Colorado State fans were pretty darn upset on Selection Sunday for a variety of reasons. Here’s why:

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves announced as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

Let’s start at the beginning. Once the selection committee has determined who will be in the field, they rank each of the teams from 1-68. That list is here. We’ll leave it at that for now.

The Rams came in at number 30 on the committee’s list, giving them an 8-seed. Here’s a link to the bracket, which you’ll probably want to reference. That #30 means that the committee felt CSU was the second best of the four 8-seeds.

Should they have been ranked higher? Let’s take a look. Here’s the list of the teams that make up seeds 7-9:

Seeds 7-9

cbssports.com

I’ll quickly breakdown each of the 5 teams ranked ahead of CSU. Keep in mind the things the committee looks at most closely are good wins, bad losses and RPI. Feel free to skim over some of the specifics if you’re not particularly interested in the details. I’ll start with CSU’s numbers for reference:

Colorado State — RPI: 18. Versus RPI top 100 11-7. Sub-100 losses: 1.

Creighton  RPI: 25. Versus RPI top 100: 10-5. Sub-100 losses: 2.

They Jays have a couple top 50 neutral-court wins, something the Rams do not have. The RPI is pretty close. Their worst loss is to Drake (RPI 144). The Rams worst loss is to UIC (169). Overall, having Creighton ranked ahead of CSU is reasonable.

San Diego State — RPI: 32. Versus RPI top 100: 8-10. Sub-100 losses: 0.

This one is going to take up a bit more space, as it has CSU fans the most upset, mainly because the Aztecs went 9-7 in the Mountain West, where the Rams went 11-5. Indeed, this is the most egregious/puzzling/enraging of the seeding scenarios.

A quote from Andy Glockner, who does a bracket projection and just about everything else college basketball for si.com. From his Monday column:

“The good thing about the Mountain West is it played a double round-robin schedule, so it’s pretty easy to see who was better in league play. Colorado State finished 11-5, a game ahead of UNLV and two games ahead of San Diego State, yet the Rams ended up 30th on the seed curve, somehow four spots behind the Aztecs and a crazy 12 spots behind UNLV. I know nonconference play matters, too, but what did UNLV and San Diego State do that was so great to overcome the league performance by such a significant magnitude? That made no sense.”

Well put, Andy. When asked for some explanation by Fort Collins Coloradoan beat writer Matt Stephens, committee chair Mike Bobinski mentioned the nonconference play of the two teams. From that report:

“Our conversations at the end of the day about those two teams were that San Diego State had a nice neutral-court win over UCLA, beat Indiana State, which is a pretty good team and did just enough things for us to put them slightly ahead of Colorado State,” Bobinski said. “Colorado State’s non-conference wins didn’t really feature anything over teams in the tournament, where as San Diego State at least had that.”

In other words, “Ummm I really have no idea how that happened. Sometimes we just screw up and there’s no reasonable explanation for that at all.” I have so many issues with Bobinski’s stupid explanation I don’t know where to start. He apparently forgot that CSU did, in fact, have a nonconference win over Montana, a 13-seed in this year’s tourney. He gives credence to the Aztecs’ neutral court win over Indiana State (RPI 72). Apparently CSU’s nonconference road win over Denver (RPI 65) doesn’t count as much as that one. So a neutral court win over a decent-but-mostly-mediocre UCLA team (RPI 26) gets SDSU ranked four spots ahead of CSU, despite 3 fewer top 100 wins, a 14-spot differential in the teams’ own RPI rankings, and a 2-game difference in the conference standings with a perfectly balanced schedule? Just lunacy.

Notre Dame — RPI: 35. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 0.

The Irish have two fewer top 100 wins, but they have two top 13 wins. CSU’s best is 22. ND’s worst loss is 94. Their RPI, however, is almost twice as high as the Rams’, so I’d call this one a coin flip, or a slight nudge in CSU’s favor. Crazy to think a brand name like Notre Dame would win a close call over a brand name like Colorado State.

Illinois — RPI: 40. Versus RPI top 100: 7-10. Sub-100 losses: 2.

Apparently the committee can just brush aside the supposedly important RPI factor when it feels like it. The Illini have a bit of a different profile. Good wins– 3 in top 10– clearly carried them to a 7-seed. There’s four fewer top 100 wins and one more bad loss. Oh, and that enormous RPI discrepancy. I’d call this one pretty much a coin flip again. The profile depends on what kind of criteria one puts the most stock into.

North Carolina — RPI: 17. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 1.

These profiles are incredibly similar. Both teams’ best wins are home to UNLV. Both played 10 games vs. top 50 teams (CSU went 3-7; UNC went 2-8). Both played 8 games vs. 51-100 teams (CSU went 8-0; UNC went 7-1). The RPI is a virtual tie (.6185 to .6182). And both teams have one sub-100 loss. I would guess the committee gave the nod to UNC because they’re playing better in recent games. That is, of course, assuming that brand names and conference affiliations and traditions don’t come into play.

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year's NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So of the five teams ranked immediately ahead of Colorado State, my scorecard reads one correct, one outrageously ridiculous and horrible, and three 50/50 calls, all three of which went against the Rams to tradition-rich programs with huge fan bases.

If I’m coming off sounding like a whiney fan, I apologize, but facts are facts. Another national writer, Jason Lisk, who does great work on The Big Lead gave me a little ammo Monday as well.

Discussing teams that were seeded lower than their RPI would have indicated he said, “Colorado State is probably the only one with a complaint if we view it from a ‘RPI, adjusted slightly for who you beat scenario’. They dropped below (UNLV) and were seeded four spots lower than (San Diego State).”

Hopefully I’ve made it clear that the boys from Fort Collins simply deserved a better seed than the one they received.

You still with me? Good, because I’m not done.

Now let’s look at the match up. Because this has me equally befuddled.

The Rams are heading across the country to play in Lexington. Should they get past a very good Missouri team, they face Louisville, the tournament’s number one overall seed. In theory, this should be designated for the fourth (or worst) 8-seed. Remember, the Rams are the second 8-seed. Since that was a tough draw, hopefully the committee made up for it by giving CSU a favorable location, right? Nope.

The other 8-9 locations are Dayton, Salt Lake City and Kansas City. Lexington and Dayton are about an 18 hour drive from Fort Collins (according to Google Maps). SLC is 7; KC is 9.

This is where things get complicated, and I’m no Joe Lunardi. But looking at the bracket, it would appear to make much more sense to simply swap out Colorado State and the team immediately behind them in the seed list, Pittsburgh. This would send the Panthers to play Missouri in Lexington and CSU to Salt Lake to play Wichita State. These games obviously make more sense because of location, but it also makes sense based on the seed list.

For some reason Colorado State plays the first 9-seed in Missouri (33 on the list) in the round of 64 even though they’re the second 8-seed. If you’re wondering, Columbia, Missouri is about a seven hour drive to Lexington, or 11 hours shorter than from Fort Collins. Oh yeah, if they get past that game they have the tourney’s number one overall seed waiting for them in a home game.

None of this makes any sense.

Unless I’m missing something, and I don’t see any conference or rematch conflicts, going to Salt Lake to play Wichita State with Gonzaga awaiting the winner makes infinitely more sense than what CSU is stuck with. And, based on the (incorrect) seed list, the Rams have earned as much.

So your Colorado State Rams got a tough draw based on the seeding, the location, the opponent, and the potential second round opponent. That’s all.

It’s really a shame, because these seniors have worked so hard for the past four (or five) years to get to this moment, and this year they’ve earned much better than this scenario. Hopefully all this puts a chip on the Rams’ shoulder, and I’m one guy thinking it would not be particularly wise to count this team out now.

Off the court, these dudes just can’t win. Here’s to hoping things are different on the court.

OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB

Here’s JaVale McGee doing something ridiculous on a basketball court:

This could be a weekly installment. And no, I don’t know what to call that play either. And yes, the Nuggets are pretty darn good. So are the Heat though, so what’s the point?

What are your thoughts on Dick Vitale? The Wall Street Journal had an interesting profile of the polarizing broadcaster last week. It’s recommended reading. Personally, I love Dickie V. His passion for college basketball is unrivaled and I think his goofy mannerisms and dumb catch phrases have become as much a part of the sport as reviewing clock issues in the last minute of games. I literally laugh out loud every time he says, “How do you miss that? I ONLY GOT ONE EYE AND I COULD SEE IT!” Dick is a surprisingly good follow on twitter, but only if you– and I’m serious about this– read each tweet in your best Dickie V voice. And really, he’s just a great dude who absolutely loves people. That’s a quality characteristic. His passionate work in raising money for the Jimmy V foundation is also very important. What do you think? Are you hitting the mute button or laughing along with me?

March Madness kinda-sorta starts tonight, so why not?

Gus is the best. It’s a travesty he no longer calls the tournament.

This one doesn’t need much explanation: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Xo2MQtqD3zk

Throw it down big man! (Found that on Jimmy Traina’s twitter. @JimmyTraina)

Apparently there’s like 20 different versions of these commercials. After much deliberation I’ve decided they’re pretty funny.

Able. Bodied. Athleticism. They may or may not be attempting to appeal to rednecks with these.

I really enjoyed the latest 30 for 30, “Survive and Advance” about Jim Valvano and the unlikely tournament run of the 1983 North Carolina State team. It was a well done look at a truly incredible man and a truly incredible season. I’d probably rank it as one of the best three or four films in the documentary series. You feel something special when you watch a bunch of teammates sitting around a table reminiscing about such historic developments 30 years later. Search for it in your DVR and set aside a couple hours, you’ll thank me later. If you don’t tear-up you’re more of a man than me.

Here’s a fascinating non-sports feature from the New York Times Magazine. This dude’s a world renowned physicist, but he makes Manti Te’o look like a genius.

This is what Marshall Henderson looked like after winning the SEC Tournament Championship:

Marshall-Henderson1

[via @denzelnkemdiche]

If you know anything about Marshall Henderson, this picture isn’t much of a surprise.

And finally, only one bracket please. I could write a whole post about this, but if you fill out more than one bracket you’re doing it wrong. If you called that sweet 13 over 4 upset in “your other bracket” I do not want to hear about it. It doesn’t count. When you fill out a bracket, you should be making a confident attempt at perfection. There’s only one perfect bracket.

Comment below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn

Happy Tuesday everybody.

Tim Miles Leaves the Rams Behind

Every once in a while as a CSU Rams fan you have to ask yourself, “Why do I even bother?” Today was one of those days. On my lunch break I saw reports of Tim Miles reportedly taking the head coaching job at Nebraska. Nothing was official, but things sure seemed to be heading in a very specific direction.

Seven hours (and seven beers) later, the Denver Post reported that the deal was final. Tim Miles has resigned as the head basketball coach at Colorado State University. Some die-hard fans will say they knew it was coming and it was only a matter of time. Some die-hard fans will say this move is bush league and Miles should be ashamed of himself. Indeed, a plethora of emotions will come to a head for fans of the CSU program.

"Sorry Dorian. Sorry Wes. Somebody somewhere else wants to give me more money. It's been real though." -Imaginary (yet possible) quote from Tim Miles.

Here’s where I come out:

Miles has probably always seen Colorado State as a stepping stone…  And that’s okay. The CSU basketball program will have a hard time shaking the reputation of a middle-of-the-road job that, with success, can springboard a career into a “real job” in real a conference.

The thing that stings is…  CSU was primed for a huge, huge next year. Essentially the entire team that took the Rams to their first at-large tournament bid since 1989 is coming back. Will Bell and Kaipo Sabas are the only seniors that are moving on. They are nice players that played a large role in certain games, but the true core of this team is (was?) ready to factor in the national landscape of college basketball next season. I’ve been saying for at least a couple of years that next season was the one for Rams fans to look forward to.

That season may never come.

So, as a fan, that is what upsets me:  Tim Miles owes it to this team to come back and coach one more damn year. Pierce Hornung, Wes Eikmeier, Jesse Carr, Dorian Green, Greg Smith, Dwight Smith and even Colton Iverson must feel betrayed tonight. How many tournament teams have the chance to bring back five (FIVE!) seniors familiar with significant minutes as well as a  junior coming off the bench and a senior transfer (who happens to be 6-10)?

Put yourself in the shoes of Iverson, who left a Big 10 school in Minnesota to play his last year for Tim Miles. Now he becomes eligible for one final year of basketball, only to play for some dude he’s never met or heard of (depending on who takes over).

What the hell is so important about Nebraska? Nebraska? Freaking basketball at NEBRASKA?

Tim Miles has successfully reached out and grabbed more money as the head coach of Nebraska. Nebraska? (AP Photo)

One would have to have some strangely compelling incentives to leave Fort Collins for Lincoln.

Which brings us to the money. Money. Money. Money. Money.

What else is there in life, right?

According to the Post, Miles will make $1.4 million a year over six years at Nebraska. That’s a pretty hefty raise over the upgrade to $750,000 he was due to make after a July contract bump. I’m sure it would have been tough for Miles to life off three-quarters of a million dollars for one more year.

The Big 10 is the Big 10, regardless of how many teams play in the poorly-named conference. However, the Cornhusker job has to be considered the cellar of that conference and Miles has some serious, serious work to do to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, etc.

Nebraska? It’s tough to imagine Timmy sticking around at CSU, entering the national rankings, making the tournament as 5-seed and not entertaining a job offer that exceeds that of freaking Nebraska.

It will be interesting to see how many promising players will stick around and how many will follow the trends of major college basketball and transfer to other schools with coaches who appear to be as committed as Miles once was.

Now Miles leaves behind a fan base which at times could be apathetic and whose true fans are now stuck wondering what might have been. And Rams fans are back to square one, wondering if there are any coaches ready to take over a new program. Coaches filled with school pride and loyalty.

Just like Tim Miles once was.

Sidenote:  Two personal favorite Tim Miles memories: 1) Standing in the student section the season we went 0-16 in MWC play and as Miles makes his way to the bench my friend says, “How ’bout a ‘dub (W) tonight??” Miles smiles, points at him, and says, “I think that sounds like a good idea!”   2) One of my best friends’ last night in Fort Collins, a Sunday night at CB & Potts. Out of nowhere an apparently fairly buzzed Miles is leaving. My friend says, “TIIIIM!” Miles turns, smiles and embraces my buddy in a heartfelt hug. …Good Times; we’ll miss him.

A Tumultuous Week for CSU Football and Other Musings

Jack Graham (Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post)

CSU fans sure hope Jack Graham knows what he's doing. (Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post)

I know I haven’t been around all that long, but I think Colorado State football fans will be hard-pressed to come up with a more tumultuous week than the one we all witnessed recently. Here’s a quick timeline of the events:

  • Thursday morning:  Highly respected athletic director Paul Kowalczyk fired completely out of the blue. The final 3 1/2 years of his contract are bought out using “private funds” (meaning donors/boosters likely pushed Kowalczyk out).
  • Thursday morning:  Kowalczyk replaced by Jack Graham, a passionate donor with zero athletic administrative experience.
  • Thursday afternoon: CSU President Tony Frank posts a letter in which he confirms his commitment to athletics at CSU. One eyebrow-raising sentence mentions “the impact that a privately funded football stadium on our campus would have.”
  • Saturday:  Nearly pull off a large upset against arguably the Rams’ biggest rival, only to fall short in the fourth quarter (no surprise there).
  • Sunday:  Fourth year coach Steve Fairchild fired by Graham.
  • Monday:  Graham announces his perplexing hiring of a national search firm to look for coaching candidates. Someone is paying the firm a quarter of a million dollars.
  • Tuesday morning:  Fort Collins Coloradoan article confirms that Jack Graham wants/is thinking about an on-campus stadium.

Whew… Need a few shots of Pepto Bismol to digest all that.

Other local and national sports musings:

  • How cool was it to see CSU play on Coach K court in front of the Cameron Crazies? It would have been cooler if they had a contributor taller than 6′-6″.
  • Am I the only CSU fan who was very disappointed to see the students rush the court after beating Colorado? We did the same thing two years ago and Kowalczyk sent us all an email saying how stupid it was. He was right.
  • In six or seven years the St. Louis Cardinals will be glad they’re not paying Albert Pujol$ $25 million a year, but don’t tell that to the 12-year-old in Missouri who has slept in a Number 5 jersey-T for as long as he can remember.
  • It seems like David Stern is losing control of the NBA. His nixing of the Chris Paul trade screws over three different franchises, but none more than the small market New Orleans Hornets, which he was trying to protect. Superstars in the final year of their contract will always have the power to dictate where they want to sign. It’s just an unfortunate truth.
  • The Rockies better sign some starting pitching during this offseason, the sooner the better. Getting rid of Huston Street and his contract to create flexibility was fine, but now it’s time to make some moves.
  • I would like to see Nene come back for the Nuggets, but I have a feeling some other team is willing to overpay for him. I think the Nuggets have to let them. A max contract would be a little much.
  • And no post would be complete without this:  TEBOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!!! At this point, there’s no sense in being skeptical. I’m all-in on the Tebow Train, and I worry that lots of people in Denver and across the country are too busy trying to be quarterback experts to enjoy what we’re seeing. This is the most remarkable football season of my generation’s lifetime, just shut up and enjoy it already.

Keeping Steve Fairchild at CSU… Is It Really That Crazy?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Apparently some folks out there think Fairchild should be given another year. I am not one of them. (Photo courtesy Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Yes.

I’m surprised at the number of people I interact with who are somewhat opposed to firing Steve Fairchild. Tweets, texts, friends, family, random dudes in CSU hats, whatever. I was skeptical coming into this season and I became completely anti-Fairchild after the homecoming loss to San Jose State. I’ve already moved on and started looking for new coaches, but apparently I may have gotten ahead of myself.

Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post wrote an interesting and in-depth article that was posted online Tuesday afternoon weighing the complications of keeping or firing Fairchild. I encourage you to read the article here.

The chief arguments for sticking with Fairchild are these, followed by my rebuttal (a term I usually save for beer pong):

CONTRACT:

The biggest issue in firing Fairchild is, naturally, money. He has one more year left on his five-year contract and will make $700,000 next season if he is retained. The obvious argument here is that a school like Colorado State cannot afford to pay two coaches at once.

My response to that is simple:  Do what ya gotta do. Kowalczyk made a mistake with this hiring and we all end up paying for our mistakes, financially or otherwise. In other words:  Yes that is a lot of money, but too damn bad.

Another point that cannot be overlooked here is the recruiting situation with a lame duck head coach. It’s tough to imagine Fairchild being granted a contract extension, and a struggling coach in the final year of his contract isn’t attractive to young recruits. Competing schools would undoubtedly let recruits know that CSU’s staff probably won’t be there much longer.

Can we afford to throw an entire season of recruiting in the toilet for the sake of saving money? I understand $700,000 is not chump change, but waiting a year to fire Fairchild would prove very costly in its own right.

RECRUITS/YOUNG TEAM

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Fairchild has not translated supposedly strong recruiting classes into wins. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Most of Fairchild’s supporters point out that the players who are leading this team are all young kids, which is actually a pretty strong argument. Chris Nwoke has had a breakout year to say the least. Garrett Grayson has shown some promise as a true freshman. Shaquil Barrett, Mike Orakpo, Nordly Capi, Crockett Gillmore and Weston Richburg are all sophomores making huge contributions as starters. They argue that Fairchild has done a great job recruiting and this team will be very good in a couple years. Firing Fairchild may even cause some of these kids to transfer schools.

My response: Let’s not get too caught up in how many stars a kid has next to his name coming out of high school. Pete Thomas was the greatest recruit for CSU in years; Fairchild’s crown jewel. He’s had his time to prove himself and hasn’t done it. Yes, all of these sophomores are leading the team, but the team is getting beat every week.

After Air Force pounded CSU, Tim Jefferson, the Falcons’ senior quarterback said, “No offense to CSU, but we moved the ball down the field way too easily against a Division I defense.” That’s a classy kid from a service academy saying he didn’t think the Rams looked like a Division I team.

That’s not exactly saying, “They have a lot of young talent. I was impressed with some plays those guys made. They should have a great team a couple years down the road.”

INJURIES

This 2011 team has been hit very hard with injuries. Mychal Sisson is our best player and he was out for the bulk of the year. Pete Thomas is going to miss the last three games of the year. E.B. Smith missed some games.

My response: Don’t wanna hear it. Every team gets hit with injuries; next man up. If Fairchild is such a good recruiter, we should have a deep enough team to beat UNLV and San Jose State regardless of who is stuck on the sidelines. I don’t remember injuries hitting the Rams this hard in 2010 or 2009 and we went 3-9 each of those seasons too.

***

Keeping Fairchild would be a simple case of overthinking the situation. We can talk all we want about potential, about attitude, about tough luck, and even about money.

Paul Kowalczyk (courtesy colostate.edu)

Paul Kowalczyk has a huge decision to make. It's not a tough one if he doesn't overthink things. (Photo courtesy colostate.edu)

The truth is simple and it’s right in front of our eyes. Colorado State has descended to the bottom of the college football world over the past three years. Nine wins, 26 losses– soon to be 27 after Wyoming heads back to Laramie with the Bronze Boot Saturday– while playing in the Mountain West Conference (and not exactly traveling to SEC country in non-conference games).

Things have gone from frustrating, to disappointing, to sad, to embarrassing. CSU fans are too proud, if not apathetic, to put up with this for another year. Listen, I understand Colorado State isn’t Oklahoma or LSU, but this isn’t Louisiana Tech or Portland State either. This is a program with a tremendous history and strong tradition. This is a university located in one of the nation’s best cities with a huge alumni base just down the road in Denver, a major market and one of America’s great sports towns.

Colorado State football can be a very respectable college football program. Unfortunately– and it is unfortunate, because he’s a proud Ram and a good person– I don’t think they ever will be with Steve Fairchild running the show.

Don’t overthink it, Paul Kowalcyzk, it’s time to move on.

The Search for Colorado State’s Next Head Coach

Now that we can all agree that Steve Fairchild is finished at Colorado State, it’s time to think about who is going to take the reins for the Rams next. I think it’s imperative that Paul Kowalczyk looks in the college ranks this time and stays away from the NFL, which is a completely different game and requires completely different coaches.

I’ve come up with a couple humble suggestions for the next man to run practices at Elizabeth and Shields in 2012:

Billy Gonzales:  Wide Receivers Coach at Louisiana State. 

Billy Gonzales

Billy Gonzales is a CSU alumni who may be ready for a head coaching job. (Photo courtesy: lsusports.net)

Ram fans might want to remember this name, this could be the guy. Gonzales, 40, is a CSU grad from the class of 1994. He followed Urban Meyer from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida, coaching wide receivers at each stop along the way. In his four years at Florida he was part of a staff that won two national championships and he coached seven players who were drafted into the NFL, including first-round pick Percy Harvin. He was also promoted to the position of recruiting coordinator in his last two years at Florida. He’s at LSU now, and while they win with defense, they are the best team in the nation. You can read more about Gonzales here.

Gonzales would be a good hire if he’s ready to run a major program as head coach, a pretty big step up from wide receivers coach. If he’s not, here’s hoping Kowalcyzk offers Gonzales the offensive coordinator job at his alma mater. Gonzales’ SEC ties cannot be overlooked. Even as a wide receivers coach he certainly understands how big-time college football works, something Fairchild is clearly clueless about. I like the idea of having an alumni run your program, although Fairchild has also taught us that’s far from the most important thing. (Jon Embree are you listening?) Gonzales made $335,000 at LSU in 2010, Fairchild made $700,00, according to USA Today’s coaching salary database. So the argument that an assistant job at an SEC school is better than a head coaching job in a minor conference doesn’t hold much weight. Anyway, I have heard (don’t snicker) that Gonzales does want to be a head coach, and the timing seems perfect for him to come back to Fort Collins.

Justin Fuente:  Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach at Texas Christian.

Justin Fuente

Justin Fuente has done big things as the co-offensive coordinator at TCU. (Photo courtesy: gofrogs.cstv.com)

Fuente became the TCU co-offensive coordinator in 2009, right when the Horn Frogs’ offense began setting records. Fuente did special things with quarterback Andy Dalton, the two-time Mountain West offensive player of the year. Now, Dalton is having a very impressive rookie season with the Cincinnati Bengals after being selected as the 35th overall pick. TCU was known for their defense, but Fuente has helped direct them to offensive dominance in his two-plus seasons as one of the offensive coordinators. Read more about Fuente here.

I think this would be a great hire for the Rams. Fuente seems to be a rising star in the coaching world and obviously knows the Mountain West very well. This would be similar to Dave Christensen leaving his job as a successful offensive coordinator at Missouri to take the Wyoming head coaching job. That has worked out reasonably well for the Cowboys thus far. Fuente has no ties to CSU– except for putting up 71 points against Fairchild in two games– but as noted above, that might not be a bad thing. Given the state of the Colorado State program, I think Rams fans would be okay with a coach who was running the offense for a team that just won the Rose Bowl.

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer

If Urban Meyer wants to come coach at CSU... that would be nice. (Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)

Bear with me. Or don’t. I realize the chances of Urb coming back to the coaching world at CSU are slim to none. Or maybe just none. But think about it for a minute:

Meyer spent six seasons coaching at Colorado State under Sonny Lubick in the mid-1990s, then went on to become one of the great head coaches in the nation. He retired at 46 due to some health issues, but it is widely understood that the stress of the job became too much for the very intense Meyer to take. Now he is an analyst and commentator on ESPN.

If Meyer does want to return to coaching, wouldn’t it be logical for him to take a job at a much smaller school, with much smaller expectations and much less stress? Wouldn’t it be nice to come to CSU, recruit a couple studs, win a diminished Mountain West title, kick his feet up with a 90 Schilling and call it a year?

A kid can dream right?

Okay go ahead and throw the Urban Meyer idea in the tank if you want. But when Gonzales or Fuente is hired, remember who told you first.

It’s Time to Fire Fairchild

It's time for Fairchild to go?

The time has come for the Colorado State Rams to move on and fire Steve Fairchild. (Photo Courtesy of Helen Richardson, Denver Post)

A college football coach at a somewhat major program can’t lose to a terrible San Jose State team on homecoming weekend in his fourth year as head coach, coming off back to back 3-9 seasons, after a supposed-to-be-big road win, and expect to keep his job. He just can’t.

Yet that is the position Steve Fairchild finds himself in after Saturday’s embarrassing and pathetic loss at Hughes Stadium. San Jose State– I guess they’re called the Spartans or Aztecs or something– jumped out to a 24-7 lead with 5:43 left in the first half.

The Spartans had lost 16 straight games on the road before taking down the Rams.

Given the lack of homefield advantage at Hughes stadium, maybe Colorado State’s new athletic slogan should be:  CSU Rams: If you can’t win on the road, come win in Fort Collins.

Steve Fairchild

With nothing to build on, and no success coming. Fairchild's days should be numbered. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

It didn’t help that Fairchild chose to go for it on fourth-and-two early in the second quarter down by three points inside the SJSU redzone. The innovative offensive mind chose to run the ball up the middle. The play was stuffed and the Rams gave the ball back to the Spartans instead of tying the game with a chippy field goal (even for Ben DeLine). The questionable call certainly changed the dynamic of a game that stinks worse than the kids hanging around outside the Aggie on a Saturday night.

Losing Mychal Sisson for the season grants Fairchild a mulligan in certain games. San Jose State on homecoming weekend is not one of them.

The lackluster start of this game is the most bothersome aspect of Fairchild’s teams. Sometimes they just don’t bother to show up. Paul Kowalczyk cannot continue to overlook tremendously disheartening losses like this one and last year’s indelible performances against Wyoming and Brigham Young. Losing nine in a row to end 2009 wasn’t much fun either. Fairchild indisputably struggles to motivate his team on a week-to-week basis, something that should come naturally to any qualified coach.

The San Jose State loss nullifies any progress made with the Utah State win and then some. I thought that win was a season-changer, now it looks like a lucky fluke.

Yes, it takes time to rebuild a program. Four years is a long time.

As someone not associated with the program in any way I might be out of line asking this, but doesn’t it seem like Fairchild’s players don’t seem to like playing for the guy?

What do Colorado State fans have to build on from Fairchild’s tenure? What have we seen that provides the encouragement that a turnaround is imminent? He took Sonny Lubick’s players to a 7-6 record and a win in the Bozo Bowl in 2008. That’s it. From that point on, things have been a disaster.

I would love for the Rams to finish the season strong with a couple big upsets along the way and force me to eat my words.

Fairchild wrote the forward to John Hirn’s in-depth book Aggies to Rams. In it, I learned that Fairchild’s mom was buried in a CSU sweatshirt. He was married across the street from the practice field on Shields St. When it was time for his daughter to go to college, he sent her to CSU. Everything seemed perfect upon his hiring.

Fairchild is a proud Ram. A loyal alumni who wants the best for Colorado State University and Fort Collins in general. His hard-ass attitude and stern demeanor were refreshing for a while. I’d be thrilled if Fairchild is the man that returns this program to glory. If he does see success, he, like his predecessor, won’t use Colroado State as a stepping stone to a larger program. Unfortunately that won’t be a problem.

Because after 3 1/2 years, haven’t we all seen enough?

Is Colorado State’s Win over Utah State a Season-Changer?

Colorado State pulled off an unlikely, double overtime win with an unbelievable finish over Utah State in Logan tonight. If you missed it– and a lot of people did– you can watch the reply online here.

CSU recovered a fumble on a punt return, down 8 points with about 2 1/2 minutes left. Four Chris Nwoke runs later the score was 21-19 Utah State. After a timeout, Pete Thomas hit his favorite target, tight end Crockett Gillmore, for the dramatic, game-tying 2-point conversion.

Both teams scored easily in the first overtime. In the second overtime, the Rams had the ball first and Chris Nwoke scored another touchdown. Utah State scored in one play on 25-yard run.

Then Utah State head coach Gary Andersen tried to be a hero.

He chose to go for the two-point conversion and the win, a very rare call for the home team in that situation. CSU thought they won after an incomplete pass, but pass interference was called. So all the Aggies had to do was score from the one yard line for the win. The Rams’ defense stuffed the run, and the game was over.

I was excited. I texted my dad and he replied, “D ude. Utah State?” (and yes that unnecessary space inside the word “dude” was included. Still not sure if old people will ever learn to text.)

To be clear, Utah State did everything they could to lose this game. Andersen’s overtime call, coupled with four lost fumbles, were gifts that the Rams dearly needed, but CSU will not apologize for this victory.

Some people will look at beating a WAC team on the road and shrug their shoulders. But CSU was a 9-point underdog and it pulled off the win. On the road.

Rebuilding a program takes some serious work and it starts by beating mediocre teams in games that you’re not supposed to win.

If the Rams lose this one, the season starts to look a lot like the same old crap we’re all used to. I’m not saying CSU is gunna enter the top 25, or that they’ll hang with Boise State in a couple weeks. But this win should be a confidence builder. It dramatically changes the outlook of the 2011 season.

After this win, it’s not unreasonable to plan on beating UTEP in El Paso or San Diego State and Wyoming in The Fort.

Suddenly, after one very mediocre win, things are looking a quite a bit brighter for the CSU Rams.

CSU Football Preview 2011

Photo Courtesy Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Steve Fairchild has some serious work to do if he wants to keep his job. (Photo Courtesy Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

A super-soft schedule may bail out Steve “In-Way-Over-My-Head” Fairchild this season for the CSU Rams. It may even force him to somehow crack a smile, which, to the best of my knowledge, would be a first.

I won’t lie, I thought Fairchild was a good hire when it went down. After he took Sonny Lubick’s players to a bowl win in 2008, I thought it looked even better. Things have kind of fallen apart since.

The Rams went 3-9 (again) last year. Going 3-9 is unacceptable, but the way last season ended makes things even more concerning.

The last home game was Senior Day (naturally) against a good BYU team. The Rams didn’t bother to show up, losing 49-10. That was embarrassing.

If the BYU game was embarrassing, the next week was humiliating. The Rams rode into Laramie for the annual Border War against arguably their biggest rival with a chance to end the season on a positive note. Wyoming was winless in the Mountain West coming into the game at 0-7.

Then the ‘Pokes beat CSU 44-0.

That game was a disgrace and hinted that Fairchild’s players may have quit on him, which has to be red flag for the program.

This year should be more kind to the Rams, thanks in large part to an easy out-of-conference schedule and a diminished Mountain West. Playing Boise State doesn’t make things any easier, but the departure of Utah and BYU make the overall conference less legit (as we used to say in Parmelee Hall).

Photo Courtesy of AP/Lenny Ignelzi

Pete Thomas needs to take some strides forward for the Rams' offense to progress. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

This year’s offense will go as far as Pete Thomas carries it. Thomas took his lumps as a freshman QB but still showed plenty of promise. Fairchild runs a fairly complex, pro-style offense and this is his first opportunity to coach a returning starter under center. If Thomas can find someone to throw the ball to, the ballyhooed recruit should be in position to take significant steps forward. On a related note, ballyhooed is a greatly underutilized term.

Defensively, there are certainly some holes but Mychal Sisson should have a monster season at linebacker. The senior used his speed to lead the nation in forced fumbles last year. He also led the Rams in tackles for a loss.

This Saturday starts an interesting season for the future of the Colorado State program. Progress is necessary. The status quo cannot be accepted.

Here’s my week-by-week breakdown:

Game 1: Sept. 3: @New Mexico  W (1-0)

This game is huge. New Mexico is picked to finish last in the MWC. They are awful. The Rams should beat this team. But winning on the road in college football isn’t an easy task, and when you’re CSU that includes playing in Albuquerque. If the Rams choke this one up, Fort Collins is in for yet another very long season and Fairchild should start looking through a few “Help Wanted” ads.

Game 2: Sept. 10 Northern Colorado W (2-0)

Northern Colorado has gone 3-8 the past two seasons– sounds kinda familiar– but UNC is a FCS (aka D-1AA) team with a first-year coach. They should be completely overmatched playing in Fort Collins. This could be a trap-game for the Rams with Colorado on deck and Bears’ coach Earnest Collins Jr. looking for a signature win, but let’s be real: CSU won’t lose this one.

Game 3: Sept. 17 Colorado* L (2-1)

*Neutral site.    Invesco Sports Authority Field at Mile High 

I really can’t stand CU, so I don’t want to pick them here, but I think their team is a little bit better than CSU again this year. Colorado’s schedule is brutal. They play 13 straight weeks without a bye. They will be huge underdogs in almost every Pac-12 Conference game. I think new coach Jon Embree realizes that The Showdown is one of the only opportunities for his program to come up with a big win. The senior duo of Tyler Hansen at quarterback and Rodney Stewart at running back should put up some big numbers against the Rams’ defense. Losing to the Buffs makes me sick, so I hope to God I’m wrong on this one.

Game 4: Sept. 24 @Utah St. W (3-1)

Utah State went 2-6 in the WAC last year and their only road win came against San Jose State. They are breaking in new starters at quarterback and running back. The Aggies will be coming off a bye week, which doesn’t help, but if the Rams are at all improved they should win this game.

Game 5: Oct. 1 San Jose St. W (4-1)

This game might be even more of a cupcake than the UNC game. Rammies win big on Homecoming Weekend.

Game 6: Oct. 15 Boise St. (4 pm) L (4-2)

Boise State is one of the best teams in the nation. BSU is better than CSU. Need I say more?

Sidenote: If CSU does beat CU, this could be a matchup of two 5-0 teams and a potential sellout of Hughes stadium for the first time in recent memory. A 4 pm start would make things even more fun/rowdy/dangerous/riot-provoking.

Game 7: Oct. 22 @UTEP W (5-2)

UTEP went to a bowl game last year but lost six of their last seven games, including getting hammered by BYU in the New Mexico Bowl. Four-year starting quarterback Trevor Vittatoe is long gone and the Miners are in a rebuilding year. Sports Illustrated is picking them to go 0-8 in Conference-USA. Rams finish out-of-conference play at 4-1.

Game 8: Oct. 29 @ UNLV W (6-2)

The Rams crushed UNLV at home last year 43-10. Things are different on the road, so this is no chippy. UNLV only has three conference home games, so this is probably their best shot at putting a tally in the left-hand column in conference play. Still, the Lobos are a bad team and are also breaking in a new quarterback. If CSU loses this one, it would be a big disappointment. They’ll pull it off and remarkably become bowl eligible before Halloween.

Game 9: Nov. 12 San Diego St. (4 pm) L (6-3)

This is an intriguing game. Things are lined up for CSU to pull off an upset of one of the nation’s upstart programs. The Rams are coming off a bye week. The Aztecs might have one eye on hosting Boise State the following week. However, I don’t see the Rams defense stopping SDSU’s prolific offense. Senior quaterback Ryan Lindley– one of the better signal callers in the country and the best in the Mountain West not named Kellen– threw for 26 touchdowns and over 3500 yards last year. Sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman ran for 1500 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in his freshman campaign. I think the Rams keep it close, but don’t come up with enough key stops to pull it off.

Game 10: Nov. 19 @ TCU L (6-4)

See explanation of game 6.

Game 11: Nov. 26 Air Force (4 pm) L (6-5)

If you like college football and live in Colorado, you love Troy Calhoun. The Falcon’s coach is getting done at a service academy and is turning down major offers to stay at his alma matter. I see another big year from the Falcons and I think they might even be ranked when they roll into Fort Collins. Air Force has beaten CSU five straight years, twice in FoCo. This year the home-field advantage (can you even call it that at Hughes?) will be diminished by Thanksgiving Break. Senior quarterback Tim Jefferson is primed for a huge year running the triple option that I can’t ever remember the Rams shutting down.

Game 12: Dec. 3 Wyoming W (7-5)

Andy Carpenean - AP

If I could type the sound of vomitting, it would be very fitting in this space. Wyo wins 44-0 in 2010 (Andy Carpenean - AP)

Will the Rams find revenge? They better. Wyoming saw a couple good, young quarterbacks transfer after living in Laramie for a while, but are not necessarily in a rebuilding year. The Cowboy’s return a handful of returning starters on both sides of the ball. After last year, things like that shouldn’t matter. This one is for pride and a winning season. This one may be for Fairchild’s career. Excuses coming from the head coach will ring hollow if the Rams let the Cowboys keep our Bronze Boot for another year.

So there ya go. I have the Rammies going 7-5 this year, finishing 3-4 in the Mountain West and going bowling, which should allow Fairchild to keep his job for another year. Not making any promises on the whole smiling thing though.