Colorado State fired fiery coach Steve Addazio on Thursday after a tumultuous two seasons that included an ejection in what would prove to be his final game for the Rams.
The decision came on the day Addazio’s buyout dropped from $5 million to $3 million.
Rams director of athletics Joe Parker said a national search firm will be brought in to assist in the hiring of the next head coach. In the meantime, senior associate head coach Brian White will serve as the interim coach.
Addazio wrapped up his time in Fort Collins with a 4-12 record. His tenure got off to a rocky start last year when the university opened an investigation into the program’s handling of COVID-19 cases, which uncovered allegations of racism and verbal abuse toward athletes.
His time drew to a close Saturday with Addazio leaving the sideline before halftime after receiving a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Rams lost 52-10 to Nevada in front of an announced crowd of 17,465 at Canvas Stadium, which only dwindled as the game got out of hand.
“The decision we have made today is not one we take lightly,” Parker said in a statement. “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.”
Addazio signed a five-year deal with Colorado State in December 2019 as he took over for Mike Bobo. The 62-year-old Addazio couldn’t restore the program to the level it reached just a few seasons ago under Jim McElwain, who was the 2014 Mountain West coach of the year. Colorado State has turned in four straight losing seasons.
Colorado State could be looking at a candidate such as Tony Alford, the Ohio State assistant head coach for offense/running backs. A 1992 graduate of Colorado State, Alford has never been a head coach but has learned the ropes the last few seasons at Ohio State under Ryan Day and Urban Meyer.
Another coach who might be targeted is North Dakota State’s Matt Entz, whose second-seeded Bison (10-1) host Southern Illinois in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Addazio wasn’t out of work long when the Rams brought him on board. Fired by Boston College on Dec. 1, 2019, he was hired about two weeks later. At the time, Parker said of Addazio’s arrival: “We look forward to Coach Addazio leading our football team as we strive to be the preeminent program in the Mountain West.”
It never panned out.
The Rams went 1-3 in a virus-shortened campaign in 2020 and followed that up with a 3-9 mark this season. Colorado State lost to FCS South Dakota State in the season opener but climbed back to 3-3 before dropping six straight to end the year. Addazio said after the season finale the Rams were “that close,” holding his index finger and thumb close together.
“We’ve got work to do. But didn’t we know that?” Addazio said. “When I came in here there was a lot of work to be done. A lot, not a little. Maybe everybody doesn’t quite understand that. A lot. We’re in the process of doing that work.”
In August 2020, the Rams paused all football activities after an investigation started by the president of the university into the program’s handling of COVID-19 cases uncovered allegations of racism and verbal abuse toward athletes.
Several Colorado State football players released a shared statement on social media to support Addazio and dispute accusations against the program. The players addressed several issues, including the allegations of racism and verbal abuse that they said were “patently untrue.” Their statement added, “our experience since Coach Addazio’s first day has been positive, welcoming and focused on our development as student athletes.”
Before his stop at Colorado State, Addazio coached at Temple (2011-12) and Boston College (2013-19).
Addazio also won two BCS national titles while serving as the offensive coordinator under Meyer at Florida. Meyer has close ties with the Colorado State program — he was a receivers coach for the Rams in the ’90s — and was seen around Parker during the hiring process for Addazio.
— AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed