Strike 2: The Colorado State Rams are in the Top 20 and appear on their way to a nice slot in your bracket come this March. They’re 10-1 with a couple of very winnable non-conference games just ahead before starting Mountain West play against a very good New Mexico team on Jan. 2. The MW will be highly competitive this season, with other quality teams like Nevada, Utah State and last year’s Final Four participant San Diego State also aiming for the league title.

This would appear to be a great year for CSU to finally win the Mountain West, either the regular season, the postseason tournament or both, to secure a really nice seed for the NCAA tournament in March.

It’s a fun team to watch, and could be for a few years to come. But there’s an “if” attached to that theory.

The question around Fort Collins – as it was a couple seasons ago when they had similar success while Memphis Grizzlies forward David Roddy was wearing green and gold – is can CSU keep their head coach after the season ends? Will Niko Medved be at the helm for Colorado State at this time next season?

He’s bound to be a hot commodity when the season’s over. Successful mid-major head coaches always are. Remember, Tad Boyle was a successful coach at Northern Colorado before he was snatched away by Colorado. It happens every single season. Medved will be coveted elsewhere.

By all accounts, Medved’s happy in Fort Collins. His wife Erica is a local.

But Medved is from Minnesota and an alum of the U of Minnesota. He’s been an assistant coach in Minneapolis. Just like three years ago, it’s possible that the Golden Gophers – who have Big Ten dollars to throw at a new coach – might decide to part ways with head coach Ben Johnson after the season. (The Rams dispatched the Gophers in a “closed” scrimmage in Fort Collins prior to the start of the regular season.)

So far, Minnesota is doing okay, sitting in the middle of the Big Ten standings. Will that be enough for Johnson, who’s also a MU alum and former Tim Miles assistant, to keep his gig? And if so, what other attractive jobs might be open? Some will, that’s for sure.

When that happens, how will the CSU administration react? Medved’s current contract pays him $1.1 million this season, and increases in $500,000 increments until it maxes out at $1.3 million in 2029. By contrast, Boyle is earning $2.4 million this season and is due a raise.

Yes, this is football country, and even as good as the local hoops teams are, coaches around here aren’t going to get the attention – or dollars – that they might in places like Kentucky or Kansas where basketball is King. Perhaps Medved’s future at CSU depends on which jobs in which leagues come open?

Back when he left UNC to move to Boulder, Boyle made it clear that he considered CU his “dream job” and over the past decade, the Greeley native has been entrenched there with very few, if any, inklings that he might consider moving on. But CU is a “Power Five” gig, while CSU isn’t. If there’s a “dream job” out there with Medved’s name on it, it’s probably at Power Five Minnesota.

Then again, money talks, and Medved, with a wife and two small children to care for, would be hard pressed to say no to any job that offers him a significant raise in pay.

The ball, as they say, will be in Joe Parker’s court.