The Colorado State football team has its next head coach, straight from a Mountain West competitor.

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The Rams have hired Nevada’s Jay Norvell as their next head coach, replacing Steve Addazio after he was fired Dec. 2.

Norvell will be publicly introduced at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday inside the Iris and Michael Smith Alumni Center on the east side of Canvas Stadium. CSU fans are welcome to attend.

“From the outset, the interest in our coaching position was significant, but one name and resume stood above the rest from the very beginning — Jay Norvell,” athletic director Joe Parker said in a news release. “When you combine his wealth of coaching experience as an assistant at programs like Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Texas, as well as five years as a successful head coach in the Mountain West, the choice was clear. I am thrilled to welcome Jay, his wife Kim, and their son Jaden to Fort Collins and Colorado State University.”

In May 2021, Norvell was named the 2020-21 College Coach of the Year by the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches. He is the first Black head coach in program history.

Norvell is in his fifth season as Nevada’s head coach, and the Wolf Pack have an 8-4 record and are scheduled to play in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 27 against Western Michigan.

He’s 33-26 at Nevada, his first head coaching job. The Wolf Pack were 3-9 in his first season, then have won seven or eight games in each of the last four and made a bowl game in each.

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong was recently named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

Norvell’s Nevada is known for running an explosive offense. The Wolf Pack led the conference in scoring (37 points per game) in 2021, mostly via Strong and the passing game that averaged 366 yards per game.

In more than three decades of coaching, the 58-year-old Norvell has stops at Iowa, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Iowa State, the Indianapolis Colts, the Oakland Raiders, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA and Arizona State.

His name has been mentioned as a candidate for Washington, Washington State and TCU jobs during this coaching turnover cycle.

Why leave one Mountain West school for another? Resources.

CSU led the conference in football total operating expenses for 2019-20 (the last year data is publicly available), while Nevada was 10th in the league.

Further, Norvell’s base compensation was $625,000 for 2021 season while Addazio made $1.55 million, making Norvell the lowest-paid coach in the league. Addazio’s salary was set to rise to $1.6 million in 2022.

Norvell and CSU will owe Nevada a buyout of just shy of $2 million, according to copies of his contract obtained by USA Today.

Norvell signed a new five-year contract prior to 2020 with a base compensation of $625,000, but it was reduced this year (to $619,25) as part of COVID-19 reductions.

Addazio was fired on Dec. 2 after going 4-12 in two seasons at CSU. He’s owed a $3 million buyout. His final game was a 52-10 home loss to Nevada in which Addazio was ejected in the second quarter with the Rams down 28-0.



Colorado State Rams name Nevada Wolf Pack’s Jay Norvell head football coach

Nevada coach Jay Norvell has been named head football coach at Colorado State, the school announced Monday.

Norvell was the lowest-paid coach in the Mountain West with Nevada at roughly $620,000 annually and is expected to get a sizable raise to move within the conference.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Norvell compiled a 33-26 record in five seasons at Nevada, including an 8-4 mark this year. The Wolf Pack will play Western Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 27.

Colorado State coach Steve Addazio was fired last week after two seasons in Fort Collins, where he went 4-12. Colorado State, which opened a new $220 million on-campus stadium in 2017, is viewed as one of the best jobs in the conference.

Before taking the Nevada job, Norvell had several stops as an assistant coach in college football and the NFL, including time at Nebraska, UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona State.

Assistant coach Vai Taua will be interim coach for Nevada in its bowl game.


Jay Norvell

Jay Norvell
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Norvell in 2017 as head coach of Nevada.
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Colorado State
Conference Mountain West Conference
Record 0–0
Biographical details
Born March 28, 1963 (age 58)
Madison, Wisconsin
Alma mater Iowa
Playing career
1982–1985 Iowa
1987 Chicago Bears
Position(s) Defensive back, linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1986–1987 Iowa (GA)
1988 Northern Iowa (WR)
1989–1994 Wisconsin (OL/WR/TE)
1995–1997 Iowa State (QB/WR)
1998–2001 Indianapolis Colts (WR)
2002–2003 Oakland Raiders (TE)
2004–2006 Nebraska (OC/QB)
2007 UCLA (OC/QB)
2008–2010 Oklahoma (assistant OC/WR)
2011–2014 Oklahoma (co-OC/WR)
2015 Texas (WR)
2016 Arizona State (PGC/WR)
2017–2021 Nevada
2022–present Colorado State
Head coaching record
Overall 33–26
Bowls 2–1
Accomplishments and honors
First team All-Big Ten (1985)

Merritt James Norvell III (born March 28, 1963) is an American college football coach and former player who is currently the head coach for the Colorado State Rams. Norvell served as the head football coach at University of Nevada, Reno from 2017 to 2021, and has been at Colorado State University since December 2021.

Norvell played college football at the University of Iowa from 1982 to 1985 and professionally in the National Football League (NFL) as a linebacker with the Chicago Bears for one season, in 1987. His coaching career began at his alma mater Iowa in 1986 when Norvell took a job as a graduate assistant coach. From 1988 to 2001, Norvell served as an assistant coach for multiple positions at Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, and Iowa State. Norvell briefly spent time in the NFL as an assistant coach from 2002 to 2006 with the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders before returning to college football at the University of Nebraska to take his first ever offensive coordinator job in 2004. At Nebraska, he helped guide quarterback Zac Taylor to win Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors and break several school passing records.

Norvell spent a season as the offensive coordinator at UCLA in 2007, and then served as the assistant offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Oklahoma from 2008 to 2010 before being promoted to co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2011. Norvell remained at Oklahoma until 2015, when he was hired as the wide receivers coach at the University of Texas, where he held play calling duties. Norvell then spent the 2016 season as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Arizona State before landing his first head coaching job with Nevada in 2017.

In 2017, Norvell became a head coach for the first time in his career when he joined the Nevada football program. The team struggled during Norvell’s first year, going 3–9 in 2017. However, Norvell helped the team rebound the next season, with Nevada going 8–5 in 2018, including a 16–13 overtime victory in the 2018 Arizona Bowl over Arkansas State. Nevada posted winning records in 2019, 2020, and 2021 as well, and Norvell finished his tenure at Nevada recording a winning record in four of his five seasons. Norvell also led Nevada quarterback Carson Strong to back-to-back Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year awards in 2020 and 2021.

On December 6, 2021, Colorado State hired Norvell to be their 24th head coach and first Black head coach in program history. Norvell’s explosive, pass-heavy offensive style came as a stark contrast to previous head coach Steve Addazio‘s run-heavy smashmouth offense.