The Green Standard

This entry is part 17 of 21 in the series Fall - 2015

The Green Standard

by Tony Phifer

Excellence was on full display throughout the year, starting with sterling seasons for the volleyball, football and men’s cross country teams and continuing through the spring seasons. When all the wins were tallied, the Rams found themselves standing alone in very rarified air.

When wins and losses were totaled for football, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball, CSU had accumulated the best winning percentage – 81.3 – among all Division I schools. The Rams aced out schools like Kentucky, Florida State, Duke and more than 100 others to earn their spot at the top.

“This academic year, 2014-15, marked one of Colorado State’s most successful ever,” said Joe Parker, director of athletics. “We are so proud of the accomplishments of our students. It has truly been a championship year, with four teams winning Mountain West team titles. Also, the nation-leading aggregate winning percentage for football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball placed CSU at the top of Division I. This academic year set the tone, and we will continue to carry that success forward.”

Certainly there have been other years of across-the-board success. The 1997-98 academic year, for example, included perhaps the greatest football season in school history (11-2 record, Holiday Bowl win over Missouri, No. 14 national ranking), a national championship in the discus for Casey Malone and postseason berths for volleyball and both basketball teams. But even that year the Rams’ winning percentage in the four revenue-producing sports was .766 – well short of the 2014-15 performance.

And the excellence spanned the entire year. The football team finished 10-3, played in the Las Vegas Bowl and climbed into the Top 25 for the first time in more than a decade. The men’s cross country team was at its best at season’s end, finishing 19th at the NCAA Championships. And the volleyball team had its best season in several years, going 31-3, winning the Mountain West, reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and finishing the season ranked 12th.

The momentum carried over into 2015, with men’s basketball winning a school-record 27 games and women’s basketball winning 23 games and the Mountain West title. Both teams played in postseason tournaments.

The Rams, though, weren’t done, as both men’s and women’s track programs won Mountain West titles – the first time in school history both teams won league championships.

Volleyball coach Tom Hilbert, who has been at CSU 19 years, said the athletic department has the right combination of coaching and university leadership to reap success.

“It was a really fun year, with all of the teams feeding off the success of the others,” he said. “You have to understand how to recruit athletes who can be successful here, and you have to know how to build a good schedule, and our coaches get that.

“The timing is really good because we’re at a time when CSU is trying to advance itself, both athletically and as an institution. We all have to believe we can move to a different level at some point, and I think we have to coaches and leadership in place to do that.”

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