Jim McElwain, who has led the offense for a national championship team at Alabama and helped win a Heisman Trophy for running back Mark Ingram, will take over immediately as head football coach of the Colorado State University Rams.
CSU President Tony Frank and Director of Athletics Jack Graham announced today that they’d hired McElwain, a Montana native who returns to the West after highly successful tenures at Alabama, Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville, Eastern Washington and the Oakland Raiders. McElwain will be visiting recruits as early as tomorrow but will return to Alabama Dec. 23 to continue coaching for the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 9, where he will serve as offensive coordinator for the game against LSU.
“In Jim McElwain, we have a coach who has throughout his career demonstrated the level of excellence we’re aiming for at Colorado State, and we’re confident he’s the right man to lead us to a bold new era for Rams football,” Graham said. “Not only has Jim excelled at the very highest levels in college football, but he’s spent time in the NFL, he’s been part of rebuilding programs and he’s a native Westerner. He really is the right coach at the right time.”
Graham was named director of athletics Dec. 1, and he set finding a football coach as his top priority. A search advisory committee with representatives from the faculty, staff, student body, alumni and donors was involved in the search and unanimously supported both the expedited search process and the hiring of McElwain. Graham said that more than 50 coaches were considered as part of the search, which quickly narrowed to a pool of about 10 strong candidates. Search firm Spencer Stuart assisted in identifying qualified candidates.
McElwain’s background and his passion made him stand out as the right person to rebuild the CSU football program, Frank said.
“I believe Jim McElwain will be an outstanding fit with Colorado State. His coaching career speaks for itself: a record that includes national and conference championships, a Heisman Trophy winner and widespread recognition as one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators,” Frank said. “But more than that, I believe he’s a good man, a true leader and educator, with strong roots here in the West. He’s got the drive, vision and character we need to build a program that is successful both on the field and in graduating students.”