According to multiple reports, Colorado State football will hire Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley following tonight’s National Championship Game to the role of defensive coordinator. No official word has come from CSU as of yet, and it can’t, considering Ansley will coach tonight.
Dating back to November, the school announced former D.C. Marty English would retire following the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, a game which saw the mediocre Marshall offense run up 501 yards of total offense — and too many explosive plays — in their 31-28 win over Mike Bobo’s Rams. After that New Mexico Bowl loss, the third straight bowl defeat under Bobo, Colorado State’s head coach finished cleaning house on the defensive side of the ball and fired special teams coach Jaime Bryant, too.
Bobo called it “a microcosm of our season” when referring to the explosive plays of 76, 68 and 90 yards, which all resulted in touchdowns and were the defining moments of the loss for CSU.
While former Florida State D.C. Charles Kelly was rumored to be a favorite for the Rams coordinator position early on, and Bobo said he had talked to six men about the job, fans of the green and gold remained waiting patiently for new hires to happen. Now, that wait seems to be over with a tremendous hire in Ansley.
Ansley, 34, has a long history of playing and coaching football, becoming a rising coaching quantity as fast as the rising tide in Alabama. Ansley played safety at Troy from 2001-2004, the leader of the back end of a defense which featured future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware up front.
In this well-written article by AL.com, former Troy assistant coach Mike Turk said of Ansley, “He seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.” Ansley wasn’t just good at taking coaching, he showed flashes of the coach he would become, even as a player.
After coaching Ansley, Turk hired him in 2005 as a graduate assistant at DIII Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL. It was there, for five years, in which the Rams new D.C. learned how to recruit by relating to players in a football world devoid of scholarships.
After Alabama won their 2009 National Championship, Ansley was hired away by the Crimson Tide and then-D.C. Kirby Smart as a graduate assistant. And after spending two years there, the young coach moved onto Central Florida as DBs coach for only a few months before Tennessee came in and hired him to the same position. After one year with the Volunteers, Ansley moved onto Kentucky, where he quickly moved up from cornerbacks coach (2012-13) to secondary coach (2014) and up to co-defensive coordinator (2015). During his time with the Wildcats, their defense scored a school-record six defensive touchdowns while they created 23 turnovers, which was second-best in the SEC in 2015.
In February of 2016, Ansley was hired by Alabama as DBs coach, where he schooled the back end of the nation’s No. 1 defense in scoring (13.0 PPG) and No. 2 in total defense (261.8 YPG). That year, ‘Bama’s D was was ninth in pass efficiency. Last year, the Crimson Tide’s defense was the best in the nation in pass efficiency, allowing only 54.1 percent of opponents’ passes to be completed, for 5.3 yards per attempt, with seven touchdowns compared to 17 interceptions forced.
For Colorado State, an improvement on defense was needed greatly for their aspirations of winning a Mountain West Championship to come true. While Mike Bobo’s offense has been spectacular at times, setting a school-record with 501 yards of offense per game in the regular season this year, the defense has been the main culprit in many losses over the last three years.
CSU allowed 27.8 points per game in 2017, which was 72nd overall. In the passing game, the Rams allowed a far too high 244.5 yards per game and 21 touchdowns while picking off only 12 passes on the season and racking up a mere 13 sacks. And even though CSU was strong to start the year, their run defense faltered over the course of the season, allowing 187.1 yards per game on the ground and 22 scores.
Simply stated, Colorado State has a great deal of room to grow on defense and they’re likely hoping Ansley will be the key to success on that side of the ball.
Due to Mike Bobo’s extension, signed the week of the New Mexico Bowl, his assistants’ pay pool increased from $2.4 to $3 million, meaning he can pay a top-notch, up-and-coming coach like Ansley big money. Ansley made $405,000 last year as ‘Bama’s DB coach, and one has to think he’s getting a raise as CSU’s D.C. Of course, now that there are no remaining defensive coaches – Terry Fair left for Tennessee while Ricky Logo was fired after the New Mexico Bowl, and English retired – Ansley has a chance to bring in his own staff, too.
First, Ansley will coach in tonight’s National Championship Game where Mike Bobo will take part in being in the booth, commenting on both his alma mater Georgia as well as Alabama, who he knows well from competitions both as a quarterback and as Georgia’s offensive coordinator.
For the Rams, this hire looks brilliant; a young, hungry and smart defensive coach from the best defensive team in the nation, Alabama.