Collins leaves Alcorn State for Northern Colorado

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Alcorn State is looking for a new football coach for the third time in four years.

Earnest Collins Jr. was named the football coach at his alma mater, Northern Colorado, on Tuesday, according to a university release.

Collins is the first minority head coach hired by UNC and replaces Scott Downing, who was fired on Nov. 16 after going 9-47 in five years at the Greeley-based school.

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Alcorn State officials were not available for comment this morning.

“I am very excited to reintroduce Earnest Collins to the University of Northern Colorado football family as the new head football coach,” Northern Colorado athletic director Jay Hinrichs said in a team release. “He knows Colorado recruiting and believes there is a wealth of football talent in this state. His teams have always brought a style of play that is physical and exciting for fans to watch.”

Collins played in the secondary for Northern Colorado, which competes in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Big Sky Conference, from 1991-94 and was an assistant coach at UNC from 2000-03. He coached special teams and cornerbacks at Kansas from 2003-06 and at UCF in 2008. He was the defensive coordinator/ associate head coach at Alcorn in 2008 before replacing Ernest T. Jones as head coach.

He was 8-12 at Alcorn with a 7-9 record in Southwestern Athletic Conference play.

“First and foremost, God has been very good to me in this process,” Collins said in the team release. “I truly believe this job is for me. It’s an honor and a privilege that Jay Hinrichs and President (Kay) Norton thought enough of me to become the head football coach at Northern Colorado.”

The hiring of Collins by UNC closes the book on a bizarre chapter in Alcorn football history.

In an Alcorn release in November, Alcorn sports information director Gus Howard denied that Collins was looking at other job opportunities. “He was STILL the coach at Alcorn State,” the release said.

After Dr. Johnny Thomas was replaced by Jones in 2008, the football program was rocked by Jones’ swift dismissal after season’s end. Collins replaced Jones after he and six other assistants were fired by then-athletic director Darren Hamilton before being reinstated.