When Colorado State hired away a Nick Saban assistant coach from Alabama, success was expected over time. After just a couple of years on the job, Jim McElwain has turned the Rams around and has them starting to think about a realistic run at the Mountain West Conference championship in the near future (watch out Boise State, Utah State and Fresno State). Looking to secure that future potential with McElwain at the helm, Colorado State has finalized a new contract with their head coach keeping him in Fort Collins through the 2018 season.
McElwain’s new five-year contract rewards him with a raise to $1.5 million per season (from $1.35 million), keeping him on top of the MWC in coaching salaries after Chris Petersen left Boise State for Washington. Even with the highest contract value in the conference, McElwain is considered a bargain for Colorado State. The new contract comes with an initial buyout price tag of $7.5 million if McElwain leaves Colorado State before the end of his contract. For a coach with a rising profile that would make for an attractive option to fill a vacancy at a power conference school in the next round of the coaching carousel (assuming Colorado State continues to improve in 2014), that is a great deal for Colorado State.
“Jim McElwain has breathed new life into our football program,” Colorado State athletics director John Morris said in a statement released by the school’s athletic department. “Last season’s exhilarating come-from-behind victory in the New Mexico Bowl illustrated all of the positive attributes McElwain and his staff have infused in their student-athletes—the perseverance to never give up and the unique bond to support one another on every play. That was a moment that all Rams fans are extremely proud of, and it provided a glimpse of where this program is headed.”
Colorado State went 8-6 last season, the first winning season in Fort Collins since 2008. McElwain was hired as head coach prior to the 2012 season. He quickly improved on the previous season’s win total with four wins in his debut season and doubled that a season later. This season the Rams figure to be a threat in the MWC Mountain Division, although Boise State and Utah State are still considered by many as the favorites in 2014.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.
“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”
That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.
In the midst of what could be a dream season in South Philadelphia, the Temple Owls announced a rare sellout for a football game this afternoon. The October 31 game at home against Notre Dame has sold out Lincoln Financial Field. This is the first time Temple has sold out two home games in the same season since 1976, when the Owls began playing home games in one of Philadelphia’s pro sports stadiums.
This is the second sellout of the season for Temple, but it is also worth mentioning who the opponents are for those two games; Penn State and Notre Dame. Penn State is always Temple’s biggest draw when they get a chance to host the Nittany Lions and their legions of fans in and around the Delaware Valley. Temple dominated Penn State in the season opener, snapping a long losing streak against the in-state power. Notre Dame is also a big draw everywhere the Irish go, and there is a solid fanbase in the southeastern part of Philadelphia as well.
It is also a rare trip to Philadelphia for Notre Dame. The Irish last played in Philadelphia in 1993 when they faced Navy in Veterans Stadium. Navy also hosted Notre Dame in Philadelphia in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1974. Notre Dame and Temple have never played in Philadelphia, although they did face each other in the 2013 season opener. This year’s game is the second game of a home-and-home series.
The game could potentially prove to play a key role in the evolving College Football Playoff and Group of Five conversation as well. If Temple avoids slipping up this week against UCF and next week at East Carolina and USC holds off USC, then we could have an undefeated and top 25 Temple program hosting a top 15 or even potential top 10 Notre Dame on Halloween. Let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse here, but that could be a very attractive matchup worth paying attention to at the end of the month for many fanbases.