Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker addresses media members during a tour of the new on-campus stadium Tuesday July 18, 2017 in Fort Collins. FORT COLLINS — You better believe Joe Parker read Izzy Matthews ’ reddit posts, too. But the Colorado State athletic director told The Denver Post Monday that it didn’t change his opinion of Rams football coach Mike Bobo — or his opinion of the direction Bobo is taking the program.
“As I’ve said so many times already, I believe in what Mike Bobo is doing as it relates to our football program,” Parker said of his coach, whose 2018 season began in August with peripheral neuropathy that caused numbness in his feet and ended with a 3-9 mark, the program’s first losing campaign since 2012. “He’s a man of high character, high ethics, you know he’ll never compromise his integrity. Did he have a tough season? Absolutely. Am I going to support him? Without a doubt.”
Bobo’s mojo was called into question earlier this month when Matthews, a former Rams running back, went on a reddit Ask Me Anything chat and declared that CSU had developed “a really, really bad culture, a lot of guys that cared more about themselves than the team, dudes that didn’t really care about football starting for us, a whole lot of things.”
When asked if CSU could “bounce back” this fall, Matthews replied that it “depends on if the coaches see the need for a culture change and stop catering to some of the cancers on the team, talent is there, all the problems are internal.”
Parker said the “culture” concerns Matthews raised have been on the radar of Bobo and his assistants as well.
“We know Izzy. He’s a respected student on our football squad and what he said, was said with his words,” the athletic director said. “I think some of the things that he may have raised in his post are things Mike and his staff have already self-diagnosed and were looking into.
“And every team’s different. When I say that, (I mean) every year brings a different set of challenges in trying to bring the right level of team play and camaraderie. So in fairness to Izzy, those were his thoughts and opinions. And in some ways, I think Mike, as I mentioned before, had self-diagnosed some of the things he would say were of concern. But I think in every way, Mike’s pushing accountability into every corner of the program. He’s not exempting himself from that moment of accountability.”
Bobo, entering his fifth year at CSU, recently declined a $100,000 scheduled raise in order to stress that point, keeping his annual salary at $1.8 million until it increases to $2 million in 2020. The Rams are 24-27 under Bobo, with identical 7-6 marks each of the first three seasons. CSU is 4-13 over its last 17 contests dating back to mid-October 2017.
“I will share that Mike and I have met several times since the conclusion of the season and I think there’s total alignment between where I witnessed and shared with him (and) through his observations and what he’s witnessed himself,” Parker continued.
“I don’t know if I want to provide any level of details as to what those conversations were about — only to say that I’m confident in the way Mike’s going to address the concerns that he has related to the football team’s performance and what he thinks he needs to do in order to correct some of the things that contributed to a 3-9 year.”
Bobo told the Fort Collins Coloradoan late last week that he plans on instituting changes to increase player accountability once spring semester begins Jan. 22, but declined to offer specifics. One change he did make public was a shift in the spring practice schedule, with a mid-February start date culminating in a March 14 spring game. The game was played April 21 last year and was held the third week in April over each of the two springs before that.
Matthews had praise for Bobo personally on his AMA chat, describing the CSU coach as “a great man, a football genius and all, a great recruiter,” but that the program “has lost our foundation under him a little bit and have become too flashy to try and keep up with the times, but that’s not all on him … I think the whole program needs to do some soul searching and remember the type of people and grit the institution was built on.”
Parker is less concerned about the grit of CSU fans, despite a dip in average attendance at Canvas Stadium from 32,062 (78.2 percent capacity) in 2017 to 29,504 this past autumn (71.9 percent).
“For sure, football is the economic engine for the department, but I’m confident that our fans are more resilient than some people would think they are,” the Colorado State administrator said. “You know, you capture a snapshot in time, when people are digesting a disappointing season, especially in the social media space, people say a lot of things in the spontaneous moment.
“I don’t see a major drop-off (of) people willing to help CSU. I mean, people that are going to care about Rams are Rams.”
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