With the recent news that Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy will resign from the program (with a nice payout), it’s time to look towards the future for what’s next for the Rams.
Three Immediate Points Of Emphasis To Fix
Move On From The Past
Despite the best efforts from outlets like “The Coloradoan” and “The Denver Post”, all of the particulars about what exactly happened during head coach Larry Eustachy’s tenure in Fort Collins will realistically probably never surface. After all, when using broad terms regarding to the program’s “atmosphere of fear and intimidation”, it’s hard to dissect all the smaller issues along the way that caused the massive pile-up of accusations against Eustachy. It simply was becoming an situation where a look into what exactly was transpiring was much needed. The result was somewhat expected after awhile.
The Best Advice: To move forward, the most obvious thing for the Rams would be to clear house and start fresh with a new staff, who can refocus the trajectory of the program in a healthy direction. While the audacity of the scandal is somewhat tame, considering some of the more severe situations across the college basketball landscape, the reality of it’s impact will be felt. Colorado State athletic department members lost or quit their jobs. Players transferred. The image of the program was damaged. To start anew, it begins with Colorado State being able to put their missteps behind them.
Discover An Identity
Both on-and-off the court, identity is everything to a college basketball program. Whether it’s the style of play or the type of players that the program recruits, the need for a selling point to each and every team is crucial. In recent years, it’s an area where the Rams have more than struggled. Their failed attempt at conference realignment didn’t sit well with a large part of their fan base and their overall national brand has plummeted. Eustachy was at the center of it all on the basketball side of things. For better or worse, Eustachy’s veteran presence became the identity of Colorado State, through all it’s highs and lows.
The Best Advice: Tap into a niche. Up-tempo offense is a staple of some of the Mountain West’s more trendy squads like Nevada and UNLV, while harassing defense has always been the calling card of perennial conference powers like San Diego State. However, for most teams in the league, they sit somewhere in the middle, with little claim to stake in the crowded world of college basketball. Between media coverage and an increase in television exposure for the league, recruits can be swayed to follow an excitable young coach to a place like Fort Collins. It’s just the right fit that is needed now for the Rams.
Reconnect With Your Roots
This may not seem like a big deal to the casual fan, but when you look up and down the roster for Colorado State and see that only one scholarship player for the Rams actually hails from the state of Colorado, you begin to ask yourself some questions. No, Colorado isn’t the talent hotbed that a California or Florida is and a level of more-distanced recruiting is expected. But when you’re not winning, a mix-and-matched unit of guys from around the country simply makes no sense. What it shows more than anything else is a simple stubbornness to adjust to the fading nature of the program. Great coaches need to adapt when going through tough stretches. Not enact a “go down with the ship mentality”.
The Best Advice: Go get some damn players from the state of Colorado! In all seriousness, besides establishing some more concrete roots with their fan base within the state, an easy selling point for any program is to root on some local products. It especially helps in scenario when fans’ allegiances are being tested, which is commonplace after less-than-flattering allegations come to light. No, all of the players on the Rams roster shouldn’t be from Colorado but it’d help if a few players were, in addition to loading up on some closer states like Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
Five Early Coaching Candidates To Watch
Chris Jans (Head Coach - New Mexico State)
A slight question mark will hang over Chris Jans when being considered for the Colorado State job, since he did has some past missteps stemming from his time at Bowling Green, where he was fired for a violation of a morals clause in his contract. However, that aside, Jans is one of those coaches who have seemed to learn from his mistakes and only improve as a coach on-the-court at the same. Currently, Jans has the Aggies at 25-5 on the season and the favorites to win the Western Athletic Conference.
Eric Konkol (Head Coach - Louisiana Tech)
While Konkol’s squad at Louisiana Tech hasn’t exactly had their best season (16-15) so far, his ability to post back-to-back 23-10 campaigns in his first two years down in Ruston after Mike White left for Florida, shows what he can do when he has the pieces. Any athletic director would be a bit concerned about his recruiting prowess on a larger scale in the Mountain West, but the former George Mason and Miami (FL) assistant may have enough established ties to bring the right players to Colorado State.
Jeff Linder (Head Coach - Northern Colorado)
A native of Lafayette, Colorado, Linder would be the “homer” pick for most Rams fans, who would want to see the program “reconnect with it’s roots” and establish a “new identity” in Fort Collins. He’d also be one of the coaches that could bring a revitalized up-tempo approach, as his current squad at Northern Colorado averages a stunning 80.3 points per game. As a former assistant coach at Colorado, Weber State (where he was crucial in recruiting Damian Lillard), San Francisco and Boise State, Linder knows the state of Colorado and the Mountain West region well enough to turn the Rams into a winning program again.
T. J. Otzelberger (Head Coach - South Dakota State)
After guiding the Jackrabbits to a surprise NCAA Tournament birth in his first season with the program, Otzelberger returned to the presumed Summit League favorites for an impressive follow-up campaign. South Dakota State has already pieced together a 27-6 mark this season and will only need to hold off rival South Dakota for that coveted trip back to the big dance. The forty-year old head coach is considered one of the rising young stars in college basketball.
Joe Pasternack (Head Coach - UC-Santa Barbara)
If things went as south as they looked for a minute at Arizona, there’s a good chance that Joe Pasternack’s name would’ve been int the conversation to replace Sean Miller in the desert. Instead, Miller looks like he’ll hang around with the Wildcats program a bit longer and Pasternack’s future remains uncertain. Another young, up-and-coming coach star at just 40 years old, Pasternack inherited a 6-22 program at UC-Santa Barbara and led them to a 22-8 mark so far this year. Simply put, if a school like Colorado State doesn’t scoop up Pasternack when he’s available, somebody else will very shortly.
Other Names To Remember
- Phil Beckner (Associate Head Coach - Boise State)
- Jase Herl (Interim Head Coach - Colorado State)
- Johnny Jones (Associate Head Coach - Nevada)
- Dave Rice (Assistant Coach - Washington)
- Lorenzo Romar (Associate Head Coach - Arizona)