The Tremaine Jackson era begins Jan. 2, when Colorado Mesa’s new football coach arrives in Grand Junction.
Jackson was hired Dec. 23 to replace Russ Martin, who, along with the majority of his staff, was dismissed on Nov. 21.
CMU announced it was “mutually parting ways” with Martin, who went 56-33 with three RMAC championships and one trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs in eight seasons.
The Mavericks went 6-5 this past season, their sixth straight season above .500, and finished fourth in the RMAC at 6-4. Still, CMU decided to make a change, although athletic department officials never gave a specific reason why.
The Mavericks have not consistently closed the gap on RMAC power CSU-Pueblo, going 1-7 against the ThunderWolves in Martin’s tenure, and were 3-5 against Colorado School of Mines, including a 56-20 loss this season and a 72-31 loss in 2018.
Martin, 63, improved scholarship funding for the program, getting several former players involved in fundraising efforts. The Legends Golf Tournament and silent auction was extremely popular, and he also secured matching donations.
Jackson, the 19th football coach in the school’s history, is eager to start on what he called a “renovation” of the program. The majority of the roster returns, including All-America safety Nick Ciccio and cornerback Justin White, the RMAC special teams player of the year as a freshman.
Hiring his staff and recruiting are his first priorities, then getting to know the players when they return from break and start the offseason conditioning program. Part of the renovation, he said, will be settling on one starting quarterback — Martin played three throughout the season, two of whom, Hayden Bollinger and Aaron Howard, will be juniors next fall.
“We don’t think Colorado Mesa football is a rebuild, we think it’s a renovation,” Jackson said the evening he was hired. “We’re going to get in and, with Bryan (Rooks) and Kris (Mort, CMU’s co-athletic directors), we might need to change out the bathroom setting, we might need to change out the sink, but it’s not tear-the-whole-foundation-down.
“Coach Martin did a really good job of establishing talent in the pool. We’ve just got to get our hands on some things at certain positions and then we’ve got to implement the program and get it moving.”