This CSU Football Staff is Exactly What the Program Needed, In More Ways Than One
Culture is something that has been talked about in conjunction with CSU constantly, whether it's in a good or bad way. Niko Medved and his basketball staff have turned the tides in the conversation about culture throughout the entire athletics program, especially following Steve Addazio's final season at the helm for CSU football for the 2021 season.
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With a wave of completely new energy from out west following Jay Norvell and his staff, it feels like CSU football is finally matched perfectly to the philosophy and culture of Colorado State University.
Open practices, a free spring game, community outreach events, and the intentionality behind Norvell and several of his coaches have completely changed the taste of CSU football in fans' mouths - and we haven't even reached the end of spring.
With the constant changes and disruptions through the football program over the last three years, it's hard to come in as a new staff and quickly find roots in stability and consistency. Somehow, Norvell and his staff have done that in just a few short months, even with the challenges of mixing new and existing players.
"We cleaned shop. We put the guys in the JV locker room, we put them in the plain white tee shirts, and we made them earn their stripes," assistant coach Chad Savage said. "The biggest thing is we want everyone pulling the rope in the same direction."
Those are the changes they've seen since this new era moved into Canvas Stadium. Understanding respect for each other, respect for the game, grit, and accountability.
"Being 100% accountable for your actions. That's easy to say but hard to live by," said Norvell. "There's an old saying that, when you're good, you don't have to tell people you're good, people tell you you're good. That's the way we want to be. We want to be players and coaches of action."
Lack of accountability was a huge frustration after every game and press conference last season. Having coaches and players buying into a team mentality and the concept of true accountability enough that they are outspoken about it already is, to say the least, refreshing.
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But, beyond accountability, there's more to sports and performance. Namely, grit and hustle.
"The thing that forges us is our grit. I just believe grit is the single most important quality that a person has to have to be successful because it's your passion, your perseverance, it's your long-term dedication to whatever your goal is," said Norvell.
The days of hot-headed grit seem to be behind us. Passion is great, necessary even, but like with everything else, only in moderation.
"Coach says we want guys who remain blue-headed, not red-headed, just stay composed throughout the game," Savage said. "We don't want guys that, if it's fourth down, are scared. We want guys who remain calm and composed to be able to make a play when a game's on the line."
Again, the culture conversation is heavily exhausted in sports in general. However, with the restructuring of the CSU football program, it's still an incredibly necessary topic to cover.
Sitting here in the spring already seeing constructive change and a mentality that started the second Norvell's wheels touched down in Colorado, it's all of a sudden much easier to buy into the "safe space" and encouraging look that this new staff has created in Fort Collins.
The first chance to see it all in action will be this Saturday, Apr. 23, at 1 p.m. in Canvas Stadium for the Green and Gold spring game. After that, it will be an exciting wait for CSU's 2022 season kick-off on Sept. 3 at Michigan.