Fresno State has some grand plans, including a renovation of Bulldog Stadium. But every now and then it gets a reminder that is well behind its competition in the Mountain West Conference in key day-to-day areas.
It got another this week when Colorado State released salary information for its football staff.
Coach Mike Bobo received a five-year contract with a base salary of $1.35 million this season and annual $100,000 raises through 2019, but what stood out in a report in the Loveland Reporter-Herald was a salary pool of $2.4 million for assistant coaches, strength and conditioning coach and support staff.
Will Friend, the offensive coordinator, has a contract worth $500,000 per year.
Tyson Summers, the defensive coordinator, will be paid $300,000 a year.
“Clearly it shows that Colorado State is making a commitment,” Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter said. “I think one of the most important things to do is hire the right people and once you’ve hired them you have to retain them. We’ve had coaches have to turn down jobs in the offseason and it’s going to be a regular occurrence if we’re having success.
“People are going to try to poach guys away. We’ve been able to keep great relationships with our coaches and keep our staff intact, but I think at some point were going to have to address that otherwise we’re going to face the inevitable of losing some really good coaches.”
The salary pool for the nine assistants and strength and conditioning coach at Fresno State is about $1.6 million, and the highest paid assistant makes $252,000. The pool for just the nine assistants ranks seventh in the conference, according to USA Today.
The Bulldogs’ assistant coaches, who have helped deliver two Mountain West Conference championships and a West Division title in three years, also have not received a raise since 2012.
DeRuyter has been able to retain staff, though several have received interest or offers from other programs. That continuity has served the Bulldogs well on the field and when out recruiting, but with salaries rapidly escalating in the Mountain West that could become a more difficult task.
“I’m not sure what Boise is doing from a staff salary standpoint, but I know they have a pretty decent salary pool as well,” DeRuyter said. “It’s something that’s very important to me. I believe we’ve got as good a staff as there is in the conference and I’d like to be able to compensate our guys as such.”
Hardaway eyes early-season return
Wideout Delvon Hardaway continues to make progress in his return from a knee injury suffered during spring practices, and has started to do some cutting in his rehab work.
“The way it’s feeling right now, I should probably be able to get back if not for the Ole Miss game then definitely the Utah game,” he said. “It feels good.”
The next step for Hardaway would be to get into drills for some non-contact work during practice, competing in one-on-one drills and running routes on air, which may come sometime next week.
“I’ve really been impressed by how hard he has worked,” DeRuyter said. “He has been saying all summer he is feeling great, and the trainers believe he is ahead of schedule. We don’t want to push it, because there are certain parameters you just can’t push past. It takes a human body a certain amount of time to be able to handle the stresses and forces that you put a body through when you cut in particular, but I like the fact that he’s champing at the bit to get out there.”
Hughes gaining as LB depth grows
Outside linebacker Brandon Hughes continued to get good reps after sitting out a good chunk of fall camp with a hamstring strain. He is in a catch-up mode, but sets up some interesting questions for the Bulldogs’ depth in the opener against Abilene Christian.
Senior Ejiro Ederaine and freshman James Bailey are at the top of the depth chart at the field outside linebacker position, and fourth-year junior Hughes and sophomore Tobenna Okeke are there playing the boundary outside linebacker spot.
The Bulldogs also have situational options with Justin Green as a third-down pass rush specialist and converted defensive end Gabe Newman on first and second downs. Senior Kyrian Obidiegwu has had a strong camp as well and can play in any situation.
“It’s a good problem to have because you feel like there’s a bunch of names there,” defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. “It’s a little bit like corner where you are not playing guys because he’s the next guy up, you’re playing guys because he’s the next best guy.
“I think as a group, there’s not a huge fall off from No. 1 to No. 2. The difference between ’Dro and James Bailey, there’s not a lot of difference there other than the number of reps that one guy has got. The difference between Okeke and Brandon Hughes when he’s healthy, there’s a lot of continuity there. There’s just a lot of positives there.”
▪ Strong safety Dalen Jones continues to make progress in his return from a knee strain. He did some drill work and then rehab with strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese, and did not need a brace on his knee. If he continues to progress, he could be back on the field and in practice Saturday.
▪ Fresno State is offering a package of four tickets for $49 in the end zone and family plan sections (3, 4, 19 and 20) for opening night. The sale, limited to 1,000 tickets, begins Thursday morning and runs through Sept. 1.
▪ Green, the sophomore outside linebacker, continues to make progress working base downs as a field side outside linebacker, but is more likely to make an impact this season using his speed and explosiveness off an edge as a pass rusher. “He is on the third-down depth chart right now, he has a meaningful part in that, and he has to grow into being an every down player,” Toth said. “He is not there yet and we’re not ready to play him there. He’s deeper on the depth chart on base downs.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada