BREAKING: Tom Hilbert to join CSU football staff for 2020-21 season

Ryan Loberger

Taking a critical look around the Colorado State University athletics department, it’ll be difficult to find someone who’s been more consistent in their time in Fort Collins than volleyball coach Tom Hilbert. The Rams’ longest-tenured head coach has enjoyed a stretch of success not many collegiate coaches can boast. 

Entering year 24 at the helm of CSU volleyball, the Rams have appeared in the NCAA tournament every year with Hilbert as head coach. Last year, the Rams rallied off 28 straight wins to end the 2019 season with a record of 29-2 and a flawless conference mark of 18-0. Hilbert also has 12 Mountain West Coach of the Year awards in his trophy case. 

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“With Tom (Hilbert) coming on as a member of my staff, I think we’ll be able to shake things up in the Mountain West this year,” CSU football head coach Steve Addazio said. “We’ve got the Rocky Mountain Showdown the first week; that’ll be how we set the tone for the season.”

On the flip side, CSU football has endured a few underachieving seasons that led to the departure of former head coach Mike Bobo, who’s now been succeeded by new hire Addazio.

Steve Addazio tells the audience that the team he wants to build will “represent you and this University in the highest regard” during his introductory press conference Dec. 12 at Canvas Stadium. (Devin Cornelius | The Collegian)

Addazio has yet to take the field at Canvas Stadium for a scheduled game, but news of a new member joining his coaching staff to help bring a winning touch back to the football program has come to light. For the 2020-21 season, Tom Hilbert will serve as an associate head coach for Addazio and the CSU football team.

“I’m very excited to see what Tom (Hilbert) can bring to CSU football,” athletic director Joe Parker said. “He seems to have that winning touch that can change a program for the better. Football could use some of the magic that volleyball has enjoyed for so long.” 

In most cases, it’s unlikely that success in one sport can effectively transfer to another. Even Michael Jordan couldn’t crack the big league during his brief switch to baseball after claiming three straight NBA championships.

Nevertheless, the time for CSU football to restore pride to the program is now: a group of new coaches, a relatively new stadium and now a familiar face with a successful pedigree to help sell this next season to the Ram faithful.

the coach talks to two players
Coach Tom Hilbert talks to Katie Oleksak and Breana Runnels during a timeout in the game against UNC Wilmington. (Ashley Potts | The Collegian)

Hilbert’s experience and winning record against CU should help the football team. The Rams have lost five straight games against the Buffs, but Hilbert owns a record of 4-3 against CU since 2010.  

“I honestly have no idea how to coach a football team,” Hilbert said. “I watch football sometimes on weekends when I’m not coaching volleyball, but that’s my qualification. I also add oil to my car when it’s low too, but that doesn’t mean I’m a mechanic.” 

Turning a football program into a perennial contender in the Mountain West or any conference is no easy task. Even more fuel to the fire of hype that surrounds CSU football this coming season comes with the addition of Hilbert. It’s a bold strategy Cotton; let’s see if it pays off for ’em. 

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @LobergerRyan 

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