With Steve Addazio out the door after just two seasons, where will the CSU Rams football program turn now? Here’s a quick summary of candidates who would (and should) be on athletic director Joe Parker’s short list:
Tony Alford, Ohio State assistant head coach/running backs coach: Will the third time be the charm for the most logical candidate out there (again)? A former CSU football running back (1987-90), Alford has recruited and nurtured NFL talent for decades and was a finalist for 247Sports.com’s National Recruiter of the Year in 2011. He was on the Rams’ shortlist when Mike Bobo and Addazio were eventually hired instead.
Billy Gonzales, Florida passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach: Another former Ram (and an Alford teammate), the Thornton native worked with Urban Meyer from 2001-02 at Bowling Green and with Meyer and Addazio at Florida from 2005-09 before stints under Les Miles and Dan Mullen.
Alex Grinch, USC defensive coordinator: It’s a matter of time before someone hands Grinch the keys to his own program. Grinch was a top lieutenant for Mike Leach (Washington State), Urban Meyer (Ohio State) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) and a recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach at Wyoming from 2009-11.
Sean Lewis, Kent State head coach: A young (35) offensive mind who’s won at Kent State with a high-tempo attack. If you can win with the Flashes (17-12 since 2019), you can win almost anywhere.
Jeff Traylor, Texas-San Antonio head coach: Want to recruit the Lone Star State? He’s your man. And the former Longhorns and Arkansas assistant is off to an 18-6 start as the head man with the Roadrunners.
Jeff Choate, Texas co-defensive coordinator: A longtime member of the Steve Pedersen coaching tree, Choate went 28-22 at Montana State before joining Steve Sarkisian’s staff in Austin. He had stints as an assistant at Utah State, Boise State.
Jay Hill, Weber State head coach: Former Utah Utes defensive back averaged 11 wins a year with the Wildcats from 2017-20, notching four Big Sky championships along the way.
Josh Gattis, Michigan offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach: Jerry Jeudy’s old mentor at Alabama is going to be getting some calls after successful turns under James Franklin, Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh.
Brent Vigen, Montana State head coach: Craig Bohl’s former right-hand man at Wyoming has North Dakota State roots, knows the Mountain West and is 8-1 in his first season with the Bobcats.
Jim McElwain, Central Michigan head coach: Shark jokes aside, the Rams could do worse than turning to an old friend again. McElwain broke hearts in FoCo when he bolted for the Florida head job in December 2014, but he’s been a consistent Group of 5 winner, posting a 22-15 mark in three seasons at CSU, a 22-12 record with the Gators and a 19-13 mark through three years in the MAC.
Kevin Wilson, Ohio State offensive coordinator. Wilson’s tenure as Indiana Hoosiers head coach ended poorly, with accusations of player mistreatment linked to his sudden resignation, but he was once a candidate for CSU. His Indiana teams were tough and physical, and he did take the Hoosiers to a pair of bowl games in his six-year tenure. Still, given the allegations that sprung up within the Rams athletic program recently, this one might be a longshot.
Matt Lubick, Nebraska offensive coordinator/receivers coach. The CSU alum, and son of legendary Rams coach Sonny Lubick, saw his time with Nebraska come to an end in November after getting let go by Scott Frost. That said, the younger Lubick was once a Broyles Award nominee and is considered a top-notch recruiter. If anyone gets what CSU can be, it’s this guy.
Zach Azzanni, Broncos wide receivers coach. Personable, sharp and meticulous, you could do a lot worse than bringing in the guy who helped develop Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick into pros worthy of extensions. Would he bite at the chance to run his own show in FoCo? He played at a MAC school (Central Michigan), so he knows the challenges that come with Group of 5 institutions.
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