2000 and 2001 TSWA Coach of the Year
Entering his seventh season as the head coach at his alma mater, Andy McCollum has stockpiled a bevy of talent across the board that should give Middle Tennessee its greatest depth in six previous years playing at the Division I-A level.
Known for his exciting and unpredictable play, McCollum has compiled a mark of 30-38 since returning to lead the Blue Raiders. McCollum, who has a vote on the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll for the fourth year in a row, has not shied away from college football's heavy weights as evidenced by contests against 19 teams from the power conferences during his six years at the helm.
McCollum, the 2000 and 2001 Tennessee Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year, is coming off a 5-6 season that saw his team go 4-1 at home and upset MAC foe Akron on the road.
The energetic McCollum guided the Blue Raiders to an incredible 2001 campaign that saw the team win eight games, grab a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship, set 46 team and individual records, and defeat a team from the SEC.
In just six years as head coach, McCollum has won a league championship, produced the conference player of the year and offensive player of the year, had a freshman All-American, developed the highest NFL draft pick in school history, and placed 11 athletes on the first team all-conference squad. If that isn't impressive enough, the hard-working McCollum has also had a 1,000-yard rusher in three of the last five seasons, the nation's completion percentage leader (2001), the country's No. 2 (2001) and No. 3 (2000) scorers, the nation's fifth rated receiver (2003), and had a receiver record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the first time in school history.
Offensively, McCollum's teams have stirred up plenty of conversation among the coaching community as testament to the Blue Raiders having the No. 5 rated offense in the country in 2001 and the No. 16 unit in 2000.
In his short time as a head coach, McCollum has done a great job of not only developing players but also assistant coaches. McCollum has sent 12 coaches on to either the professional, collegiate, or high school ranks. Over the past five seasons, Coach McCollum has placed two assistants in the pros, two at national power Florida, and one each at SEC members Arkansas, LSU, and Mississippi State. At the 2002 AFCA Coaches Convention, McCollum and his staff were one of just five in the country selected to speak before their peers.
McCollum, known for his ability to bring in top-notch talent, has not let any of the Blue Raider faithful down during his six seasons. The fearless McCollum has made his mark in the recruiting arena by bringing some of the area's top talent to Murfreesboro. With each recruiting class, McCollum's talent seems to get better and better, which is a mark of a solid program and one that is well respected.
A former coach and player under legendary Blue Raider coach Boots Donnelly, McCollum has brought with him an exciting offensive strategy and a defensive scheme predicated on speed and athleticism. In his first year, the Blue Raiders set four team records and 15 single-game and/or single-season marks. The Middle Tennessee passing offense ranked 32nd in the nation, and two receivers were rated among the top 26 in catches per game. In his second season, the offense set a school record with five 40-plus point games and then added three individual single-game marks, five individual single-season records, and five individual career marks.
After serving as an assistant at Middle Tennessee in the '80s, McCollum made his way back to Murfreesboro following nine seasons at Baylor and UTEP.
In 1989, McCollum, 46, left Middle Tennessee to become wide receivers coach under offensive coordinator David Culley at Texas-El Paso. That year, UTEP was rated 10th nationally in passing. From 1990 to 1993, McCollum was in charge of the linebackers and also coordinated special teams.
In 1993, McCollum joined Chuck Reedy's staff at Baylor as linebackers coach and immediately earned a reputation as an outstanding recruiter and top-flight tactician. In 1995 and 1996, Max Emfinger rated McCollum among the top 10 recruiters in the nation.
In the spring of 1995, he left for the University of Tennessee to serve as linebackers coach but returned to Baylor seven weeks later to take over the role of assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
As defensive coordinator in 1995, the Bears ranked No. 5 nationally in total defense, No. 5 in pass defense, No. 9 in scoring defense, and No. 12 in rushing defense. As special team's coordinator that same season, McCollum's squad was rated the SWC's top unit after recording eight blocked punts and converting four of those into touchdowns.
McCollum, who was named Middle Tennessee's 13th head coach on Dec. 8, 1998, got his start in coaching when Donnelly picked up the phone in 1981 and asked him to be a graduate assistant. After just one year as a graduate assistant in which he was head coach of the junior varsity squad, McCollum was named full-time in 1982.
From 1981 to 1984, McCollum served as an assistant coach working with wide receivers, tight ends, and special teams. In 1985, MT was ranked No. 1 in I-AA, going 11-0 in regular season play. In 1988, McCollum's Blue Raider secondary led the nation in pass defense and set three new NCAA records.
During his time as an assistant at Middle Tennessee, McCollum recruited or coached the likes of Dwight Stone, Tony Burse, David Little, Don Griffin, Vince Hall, Kenny Tippens, Marty Carter, Walter Dunson, Steve Dark, and Ricky Martin. All of the above are former Blue Raider greats who are either playing in the NFL or did at one time.
McCollum, from Marietta, Ga., graduated from Austin Peay in 1981, where he was a four-year letterman as an offensive guard and tight end. He earned his master's degree from MT in 1983. A four-year starter, McCollum played offensive guard in 1977 and then was a tight end/receiver from 1978 to 1980.
As a prep player for Ray Broadaway at Marietta High School, McCollum was a three-year starter at quarterback. As a senior, he earned third team all-state honors and was selected Cobb County Player of the Year, North Georgia Athlete of the Year, and Most Valuable Player at Marietta. In his final year, McCollum led the Blue Devils to a 10-2 record and the region championship.
McCollum, who has coached eight All-Americans, 67 all-conference picks, and 31 players who have moved to the NFL, is married to the former Gwen Wilkinson. The couple has a son, Drew, and a daughter, Andrea.