Steve Addazio out as CSU football coach after 16 games

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  • Steve Addazio
    American college football coach

Steve Addazio’s time as Colorado State football coach is done after 16 games.

The 62-year-old veteran coach was fired by the school Thursday, less than a week after the Rams ended the 2021 season and less than two years after his hire.

Athletic director Joe Parker met with players at 11 a.m. and the school officially announced the move shortly after.

“The decision we have made today is not one we take lightly,” Parker said in a news release. “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.”

More: Fans, players, media react to CSU football firing head coach Steve Addazio

CSU went 3-9 in 2021 (2-6 in Mountain West play) and 4-12 overall under Addazio. The 2021 campaign was the first full season for Addazio leading the Rams after a shortened 2020 due to COVID-19.

He made $1.55 million in 2021, with his salary set to rise to $1.6 million for 2022. He was the second-highest paid coach in the Mountain West (behind Wyoming’s Craig Bohl) in 2021.

Addazio’s contract buyout was $5 million until Thursday, when it dropped to $3 million. That payment will be made by CSU over the final three years of Addazio's original contract.

Parker hired Addazio in December 2019, less than two weeks after Addazio was fired after his seventh season leading Boston College.

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His career record is now 61-67 in 11 seasons as a head coach at Temple, Boston College and CSU.

Parker, along with CSU president Joyce McConnell, relied heavily on the input of Urban Meyer (a former CSU assistant) in the search that ended in Addazio's selection. Addazio was formerly an assistant coach under Meyer.

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Colorado State Rams head coach Steve Addazio looks on in the second quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium.
Colorado State Rams head coach Steve Addazio looks on in the second quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium.

Prior to hiring Addazio, CSU reached an agreement with Butch Jones before backing out late in the process due to Title IX concerns from his time at Tennessee.

It was a tumultuous two years for Addazio at CSU. The COVID-19 pandemic hit shortly after his hire, and football operations shut down in the middle of his first spring practice early in 2020.

Complaints from members of the football program regarding alleged violations of COVID-19 protocols and racial insensitivity prompted an investigation into the football program and athletic department later in 2020. That investigation did not substantiate many of the claims, but set in motion a university plan to address anti-retaliation measures and conflict resolution in its athletics program.

More: CSU athletics investigation prompts action, but some argue it's too little, too late

The 2020 football season was initially postponed by the Mountain West due to the spread of COVID-19 before the league ultimately opted for a shortened eight-game season. The Rams ended up playing only four games. Three were cancelled due to COVID-19 issues with teams (two due to the opponent and one due to CSU), and a last game was forfeited by Utah State due to a player boycott.

The Rams went 1-3 in the shortened season. CSU opened 2021 with home losses to South Dakota State and Vanderbilt before righting the ship with wins in three of four games, with a close loss at top-10 Iowa in the middle.

The season turned in mid-October, when CSU had a chance to take a lead in the Mountain Division with a win at Utah State. Instead, CSU lost on a chaotic final sequence when the field goal team was unnecessarily rushed on the field and missed a go-ahead kick. Addazio placed the blame on players after the game.

The next week, Addazio banned media from two days of practice availability as criticism around the Utah State finish swirled.

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The downward spiral had started. CSU ended up losing its final six games of the season, giving up more points each game than the week before.

It culminated with a 52-10 loss to Nevada at home Nov. 27, when Addazio was ejected in the second quarter. He was just the second FBS head coach in the last five years to be ejected from a game.

The 36,500-seat Canvas Stadium was virtually empty by the end of that game, and social media was aflame with anger from CSU fans.

Addazio replaced Mike Bobo, who went 28-35 in five seasons with the Rams before he was let go after the 2019 season.

Senior Associate Head Coach Brian White will serve as CSU's interim head coach.

CSU has hired search firm Collegiate Sports Associates to assist in the pursuit of a new head coach.

Parker said he doesn't require the next coach have head coaching experience and wants to cast a wide net.

There's a signing day for recruits on Dec. 15, lending urgency to the search for CSU football's next coach.

New: Steve Addazio 'likely' made racially insensitive comment, threatened janitor's job

More: 'Hidden in plain sight': CSU football staff accused of racial insensitivity, abuse

Follow Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle. Coloradoan sports can also be followed on Twitter. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Colorado State football coach Steve Addazio out after 2 seasons

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