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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

When President Franklin Roosevelt passed away in office in 1945, the shock to many Americans wasn't that the president had died. It was that so many just didn't know their country any other way than with FDR in the oval office.



Andy McCollum's accomplishments should not go overlooked.
While comparing the Middle Tennessee football program to the U.S. presidency is nowhere near valid, you can't help but feel a little sense of awkwardness at the dismissal of Andy McCollum as head football coach.

After all, McCollum is the only coach the Blue Raider program has ever known in its 1-A era. What will life be like without Andy Mac? That's for the future to tell and the images currently exist only in Middle Tennessee fans' imaginations.

The candidates to fill McCollum's spot certainly drip with intrigue.

There's Rick Minter, defensive coordinator at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis, who would come with a glowing recommendation from his current golden dome boss.

There's David Cutcliffe, tutor of two college quarterbacks named Manning and a name with some real weight in southern college football.

There's Charlie Strong, associate head coach at Florida and former defensive coordinator at South Carolina, Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro's old stomping grounds.

There's also current Blue Raider defensive coordinator Mark Criner, who has successfully turned a unit that was a laughingstock into an extremely solid group.

But before we get carried away looking to the future, a review of the McCollum era in his order.

The good: Even the staunchest Mac basher has to admit there were some great accomplishments and moments in Blue Raider football under his guidance.

Who could forget the goalposts coming down after the 2000 home win over Louisiana Tech? There was the dominating offensive performance in front of a packed Vanderbilt Stadium that resulted in a 37-28 win over the Commodores to start the 2001 season.

Throw in two more conquests of Vanderbilt, a co-Sun Belt Conference championship and several quality performances on the road against some of the nation's elite programs, and you have several good things that Blue Raider fans can point to with pride.

When and if the day comes that Middle Tennessee reaches the level it wants to reach, a level of consistent winning, league titles, and bowl appearances, some of the credit must rightfully go to McCollum.

He's the man that took the reigns of a fledgling Division 1-A program and guided it from OVC obscurity. Somebody had to take that risk, and he was willing to do it.

The bad: The last four seasons haven't been what any Middle Tennessee backer has been looking for. It's hard to not venture back to an October day in Denton, Texas, when a wacky bounce of the football led to a 78 yard punt and essentially ended the Blue Raiders' bid to improve to 6-0 on the 2001 season.

Since that fateful day at Fouts Field, North Texas has dominated the league. Four losses to the Mean Green were somewhat understandable, especially considering that the 2002, 2003, and 2004 North Texas teams were just better than Middle Tennessee.

This season's loss to a sputtering Mean Green team was the first real blow to the head of the nail in the McCollum coffin. An inexplicable five turnover performance from Middle Tennessee spoiled a great defensive effort and only swelled the North Texas monkey hanging on the program's back.

The ugly: Southeast Missouri, North Texas, Florida Atlantic, Temple, North Texas again, Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida Atlantic again, North Texas yet again, Akron, Louisiana-Lafayette again, and Louisiana-Monroe.

Blue Raider fans will recognize that list as the string of opponents that McCollum's teams have lost to at Floyd Stadium since the beginning of the 2002 season.

What was a terrific home field advantage early in McCollum's tenure slowly eroded into a bona fide house of horrors in 2005, as Middle Tennessee posted a 1-4 ledger in front of the home fans this season.

The home losses, including four straight home openers in front of large crowds, just drove a knife through the hearts of Raider fans and were likely responsible for several of them staying far away from Horace Jones Field on late season fall Saturdays.

Where does MT go from here?

It's plain irresponsible to not recognize the contributions that McCollum made to Middle Tennessee over his seven year tenure. However, it became clear recently that some sort of shakeup was needed in a program that seemed at times to invent ways to lose and just couldn't get over the hump in key games.

GoMiddle.com expects there to be some fallout from Massaro's decision to fire McCollum, including some potential transfers of some very talented players.

However, Massaro has a great opportunity ahead of him. There's no doubt that potential for success at MT is nearly limitless, and the right hire could help elevate this football program to new heights.

While the sun sets on a McCollum era of mixed results, it is also the dawning of a new day at Middle Tennessee. The dawning of an opportunity that this athletic department and university must make good on.
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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

Looks like we may have played a part in his demise. TWICE! See the "Ugly" paragraph.
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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

INteresting article, thanks O.G.

The politics of this sport are almost as engaging as watching an actual game sometimes!
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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

Welcome top the board tangygirl.

You are so right about the politics involved. Some teams have a quick hook (Notre Dame with T Willingham) while some have more patience.
Then you have the 8-4 teams(or close) like the Gators who fires Ron Zook.
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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

I think there will definitely be mixed emotions from MTSU fans. It will be interesting to see how quickly they replace him and who gets the job. Some of the names thrown out in the article seem a little too impressive for the MTSU job. I don't think Cutcliffe, Strong, or Minter will be the guy. My guess is that D coordinator Criner will have a good shot. Althouhgh, new blood is sometimes a very good thing. Best of luck MTSU. GO OWLS!!!

You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

Funny you look at it that way. I was looking at the opposite for at least one of the candidates. I thought Strong may give it a shot because it's not too high profiled. A defensive mind in the SunBelt who takes over a middle level team with decent talent.
But you're also right about them waiting for a more visible slot.

Will be interesting to see who steps in.
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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

Strong has established himself as a really good defensive coach. I think he should get a shot as a head coach with a BCS conference team. He might not want a top flight program but a mid-level BCS conference team would be nice. I think he could land the same type of job that Zook landed at Illinois. BIG10 or SBC?? Pretty easy call in my book. The flip side is what you are saying O.G. MTSU provides a pretty safe platform for springboarding to the big time. I guess I can see that as well. GO OWLS!!!

You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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Middle Tenn Coach Fired!

MTSU fans have been calling for his heads for a couple of year now and got what they wanted.

MTSU under acheived the past couple of years coupled with his remarks concerning fans at the begginning of the season :-X this was bound to happen.

How many head coaches job opening that will be available at season end could play a part as to what type of coach they can attract - some could play a waiting game for the best possible chance available.

MTSU fans will now have plenty to talk about in the off season.

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