What is the Ewing Theory, and does it apply to CSU football?

Ethan Lee

The Ewing Theory is a sports phenomenon conjured up by popular sports columnist Bill Simmons and his friend Dave Cirilli. Inexplicable levels of success from Georgetown University and the New York Knicks throughout the mid ’90s during the absence of center Patrick Ewing are what gave the wacky phenomenon its name today.

The basic premise behind the theory is that sometimes teams are too reliant on individual talent, and when that individual talent leaves the team, it opens up a more collaborative and ultimately a more successful style of play.


There are two main identifying factors when looking for a potential Ewing candidate. One, the team in question must either have an injured star player or be recently divorced from a star player. Second, the team’s performance must have improved in the star’s absence.

While finding true Ewing candidates is normally hard to do, 2019 has provided a handful of teams that fit the bill. 

The first Ewing Theory candidate of 2019 is the Washington Nationals. A year removed from losing Bryce Harper, one of the best players in baseball, the Nationals defied the odds. They made an improbable playoff run, capped off by the teams’ first World Series win in franchise history.

The Nationals check the two requirements and perhaps serve as one of the most concrete examples of the theory to date. 

The second candidate for 2019 is the Indianapolis Colts. After an unexpected retirement from star quarterback Andrew Luck just weeks before the season, it seemed as if the Colts’ playoff chances had been dashed.

Throughout the remainder of the preseason, the media began to paint a gloomy picture of what could have been if Luck had remained on the field. However, once the regular season began, the Colts started making unexpected noise.

Former backup turned starter quarterback Jacoby Brissett and the Colts jumped out to a 5-2 record before losing Brissett to injury in week nine of the season. Since the injury, the Colts have lost their last two games. A successful return of Brissett could revitalize the Colts’ Ewing candidacy, but for now, it’s safe to say that they aren’t quite there yet. 

The final potential Ewing Theory candidate hits a little closer to home for most of our readers. Yes, I am talking about our very own Colorado State football team.

The player in question is not former quarterback Collin Hill, who the Rams lost after he suffered a season-ending ACL injury against Arkansas earlier this season. The player in question is former running back Marvin Kinsey Jr.

a player runs with the ball
Marvin Kinsey Jr. runs the ball down the sideline during the game against Illinois State Sept. 22, 2018. (Collegian File Photo)
Through the first five games of the Rams’ season, Kinsey accumulated enough rushing yards to rank in the top 10 in the country for that category. His play was electric, and he was seemingly one of the only bright spots on what was an overwhelmingly disappointing football team.


However, a midseason suspension that would eventually result in his release from the team put an end to his inspiring campaign. As Kinsey departed, it seemed as if the Rams’ dismal fate had been sealed.

However, in the absence of Kinsey, the Rams have used a balanced offensive attack to rattle off two victories, and their once seemingly nonexistent bowl game hopes have newfound life. 

Our Rams host the Air Force Falcons this Saturday, a game that will truly put their Ewing candidacy to the test. Only time will tell if the Rams can use some ’90s magic and cast the doubt that currently surrounds them into a distant memory.

Ethan Lee can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on twitter at EthanLee_99.