UPDATE: Former Nevada running back and current running backs coach Vai Taua has been named as the interim coach for a Quick Lane Bowl against Western Michigan on Dec. 27
Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth released this statement this afternoon.
“We are grateful for the foundation built by Head Coach Jay Norvell during his five seasons here at Nevada and wish him and his entire family the best in his new endeavor. He has made a significant impact on our football program and in the lives of our student-athletes. I am pleased to announce that Assistant Coach Vai Taua will take over as our interim head coach for the bowl game. We are confident in Coach Taua’s ability to lead our team during this transition time. Nevada football has a proud history and tradition. As we continue to invest in our program with enhanced facilities and operational support, we’re excited about the opportunities ahead to elevate our program. We will begin a national search immediately to find a new leader for Nevada Football.”
Taua replaces Norvell, who was officially named the Colorado State head coach on Monday and with an introduction planned for Tuesday. No official details regarding Norvell’s upcoming contract have been released yet.
“I would like to thank (athletic director) Joe Parker, President Joyce McConnell, and the other members of the search committee for entrusting me with this incredible opportunity,” Norvell said via a press release. “I am humbled, thankful, but most importantly excited to begin this process of building Colorado State into the championship contender we all know it can be. My family and I are ecstatic and cannot wait to get to Fort Collins to get started.”
Taua has spent time as the team’s running backs coach since 2019, He was also the assistant player of personnel and recruiting in 2018 and as a special teams analyst in 2017. Before his coaching stint with Nevada, he was a position’s coach (wide receivers and defensive line) at UCLA in 2014-15 as well as a special teams and running backs coach at East Los Angeles college in 2016.
Taua, the older brother of current running back Toa Taua, is most known for his play with the Pack. The tailback rushed for 4,512 career rushing yards and 53 touchdowns as a three-time WAC member from 2007-2010.
The status of Matt Mumme — Nevada’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, as well as Nevada’s associate head coach — is unknown. Defensive coordinator Brian Ward reportedly accepted a job at Washington State, leaving Taua as arguably the top in-house candidate given his rapport with the program.
According to multiple reports that surfaced on Monday morning, Nevada head coach Jay Norvell is expected to become the next head coach at Mountain West’s own Colorado State.
The report was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel and later confirmed by Football Scoop, The Coloradoan’s Kevin Lytle and Action Network’s Brent McMurphy.
Sources: Colorado State has targeted Nevada coach Jay Norvell as the school's next coach. A deal is not quite done, but he's the top candidate to be the next coach there.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 6, 2021
Colorado State is is expected to name Nevada’s Jay Norvell as head coach, sources tell me— Kevin Lytle (@Kevin_Lytle) December 6, 2021
Nevada’s Jay Norvell is leaving to become coach at Colorado State, source told @ActionNetworkHQ. 1st report by @Kevin_Lytle. Norvell had been at Nevada last 5 years, with winning records last 4 seasons— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 6, 2021
Norvell went 33-26 and 23-18 in Mountain West play across five seasons with the Wolf Pack, including four straight bowl bids with four straight seven-plus win seasons. Nevada finished 8-4 in 2021 and is scheduled to play in Quick Lane Bowl against Western Michigan on Dec. 27.
He will inherit a Colorado State program that’s gone 11-29 since 2017 under head coaches Mike Bobo and recently-fired Steve Addazio. The program went 8-20 in conference play over that span, including 2-6 in 2021 — when it lost six straight to end the season, its first six-game losing streak since 2012.
Addazio, who was fired last week after going 4-12 in two seasons with the program, made $1.5 million in base salary in 2020 and $1.55 million in 2021. He was scheduled to make $1.6 million in 2023. If the deal becomes official, it’s fair to assume Norvell — who was scheduled to make $625K plus incentives with Nevada through 2024 — is at or supersedes that figure.
His buyout is scheduled to be approximately $1.9 million.
Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray reported that Nevada was, “poised to make Norvell an offer to give him a seven-figure annual offer,” but wasn’t expect to match the $1.5 million figure of Colorado State. Nevada’s had just two coaches exceed the seven-figure mark: Former men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman and current men’s basketball head coach Steve Alford.
Prior to Norvell, Nevada’s single-season payment record for a football head coach was $585,000, given to Brian Polian in 2016.
Colorado State possesses Canvas Stadium, a $220.1 million structure that was built in 2017, plus an indoor practice, something Nevada doesn’t have — despite Norvell opining for one given the rabid smoke that has plagued the area throughout the last several summers.
Nevada will also graduate more than 30 seniors, including a majority of its starters and back-to-back Mountain West offensive player of the year Carson Strong, a junior, to the NFL Draft. Colorado State graduated 17 seniors, including all-worldly tight end Trey McBride, who could potentially be a first round pick (with Strong) in the upcoming draft.
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.