Jake Riepma

Jim Collins Leaving Saginaw Valley State After 11 Seasons

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Jim Collins is stepping down as head coach of the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals after an 11-year stint at the helm.

Collins will be making the jump to the Division I level and joining the staff at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to serve as the Director of Recruiting.

Collins departure comes less than a month after the Saginaw Valley State Athletic Department was sanctioned for major violations in 15 sports — including football — and more than 100 student-athletes over a four-year period.

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Many will argue the conclusion of Collins tenure at SVSU was long overdue. A 3-19 stretch over the course of the 2014 and 2015 seasons created the narrative of Collins’ time in Saginaw coming to an end. 2016 and 2017 wasn’t much better – a combined 10-11 overall. Then the 2018 season came around and lo and behold, SVSU rattled off an impressive 8-3 season and momentum seemed to be restored within the football program. To me, that’s what makes the timing of Collins’ departure – shortly after the recent sanctions surrounding the program -- ‘peculiar’ at best.

Let’s put together a little February timeline of SVSU football: February 6 -- signing day, February 7 --SVSU agrees to sanctions from NCAA for major violations in 15 sports, resulting in the school being placed on probation for the next four years, and last but certainly not least, February 25 – Jim Collins steps down as head coach and takes the Director of Recruiting job at Army.

I’m fully aware of the notion that sometimes in order to take the jump to the next level, you must sacrifice a lesser job position.

However, it’s difficult for me to look past the optics of the timing, regardless of the press release from Saginaw Valley State Athletics in which Collins goes all out to make it clear how he feels:

"I am excited for the future of Cardinal Football and confident that I am leaving the football program in a very good place," Collins said. "The program is made up of high character individuals who show up every day, work hard, compete, display an awesome amount of grit, and share a special bond with each other. I am extremely proud of all of them."

I’m not going to question a man’s honesty and integrity – If he that’s truly how he feels, then I must take him for his word. But again, I stress the optics of the timing. It’s hard to put on a blindfold birdbox style and nod my head in applause for the next step of Collins’ career.

There’s never a perfect break-up, or a flawless departure – but I really don’t think it’s fair to the incoming recruiting class for the Cardinals the way this has all transpired… in my mind, it's somewhere between 'dicey' at best, and borderline bush-league at worst… I mean as a program you announce the sanctions the day after 17 and 18-year-old kids just inked four plus years to be a part of your program, and the man that sat in your living room selling you on the direction of his program is now leaving town never to return. Hopefully the grass is greener at Michie Stadium.

I’ll be curious to see how many of the young guys stick around in Saginaw. If it were me, I’d be putting in my request for a release and transferring. It’s hard to imagine a more tumultuous beginning to one’s college career before even setting foot on campus.

As for the future of the program – Adam Gonzaga, the Defensive Coordinator for the Cardinals has been named the interim head coach. I’ve known Adam my whole life, and I wish him the best. I remember as a young kid our family having dinner with him at Bill Knapps in Midland when he was interviewing for the Defensive Coordinator job at Northwood in the early 2000s. He got the job, and ultimately helped lead some of the all-time best Northwood teams including the 2004 championship team. He’s a damn good coach. I hope he’s named head coach.

In any case, it’s fun to talk GLIAC football in February. As always, it’s just my two cents, worth less than that, feedback always welcome.

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Updated 03-03-2019 at 05:23 AM by Jake Riepma

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Comments

  1. Redwing's Avatar
    Nice review of a tough situation. It's usually the student that feels it..here's hoping that it's muted for them.
  2. Jake Riepma's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Redwing
    Nice review of a tough situation. It's usually the student that feels it..here's hoping that it's muted for them.
    Thanks for reading!