McElwain building successful foundation at CSU

Colorado State coach Jim McElwain jokes with another Rams coach Saturday during the CSU football camp at Stocker Stadium. McElwain understands the importance of these camps around the state as they expose high school kids to the Rams.

Jim McElwain has the Colorado State University Rams on the right path.

Now in his third season, the Rams’ head coach is keeping the focus on improvement.

“We’re getting a little better,” he said. “Coming from Alabama, I kind of have an expectation of where we’re supposed to be and where we’re heading, and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

McElwain, who is 12-14 overall at CSU, coached the Rams to a win in the New Mexico Bowl last season.

McElwain, a Montana native, had several successful coaching stops since 1987, but he said his time at Alabama (2008-11) as the offensive coordinator under Nick Saban was a great learning opportunity.

“I was fortunate to learn from one of the best,” McElwain said. “There’s some base principles to be successful in life, and that carries over to football as well.”

McElwain, 52, and his entire coaching staff were in Grand Junction on Saturday for a two-hour football clinic at Stocker Stadium. Approximately 50 youngsters came to the camp, which was part of a five-stop tour around the state for the CSU coaches.

“It’s our way of getting out and exposing kids to Colorado State,” McElwain said.

He said one of the keys to a successful college program is assembling and keeping a quality coaching staff.

One of his assistant coaches is Miles Kochevar, a 2001 graduate of Fruita Monument High School, who coaches the safeties. The former CSU safety was hired by McElwain when he took over the program.

Kochevar said after last year’s 8-6 season, there’s a buzz starting to grow about the Rams.

“It’s good to get the excitement back in Fort Collins. You can really feel it building,” he said.

McElwain said it makes for an exciting season when they have “three rivalry games” on their schedule with Colorado, Wyoming and Air Force.

“That’s what I love about college football,” he said.

He said it’s important to not put a timeline or a time-driven expectation for success for CSU.

“I never do (set timelines) because it’s all about getting better every day, and that investment not only helps you win ball games, but helps you win at life,” he said.

As a native of Missoula, McElwain said CSU brought him closer to his native Montana. Of course, he’s an avid fisherman, but he doesn’t call it fishing.

“I call it catching,” he said with a smile.

After going 8-6 and winning a bowl game last year, McElwain is excited about the future. Now he hopes to get fans hooked on CSU football.


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