It’s a Crucial Time for Colorado State as Jim McElwain Moves On


Nov 28, 2014; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Colorado State Rams head coach Jim McElwain walks out onto Falcon Stadium with tight end Steven Walker (30) and defensive lineman Jakob Buys (91) before the start of the game against the Air Force Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We all knew it was coming but it still hurts a little if you are a fan of Colorado State. Jim McElwain has agreed to be the next head coach at the University of Florida. He is expected to be introduced at a press conference later today after meeting with his now former players this morning.

If you’re a Rams fan it is easy to be bitter and there’s no denying that today is a sad one, but McElwain has earned this opportunity. When he was hired three years ago, I was very happy with the move but I also warned people that this was a possibility. In fact I said if everything went right, McElwain would be in Ft. Collins for three seasons.

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The job now is infinitely more attractive now than it was when McElwain took it in 2011, and he deserves credit for that.

The Rams are coming off of a 10-2 regular season with a bowl game yet to play, it looks like the on-campus stadium is going to happen and McElwain has left a fair amount of talent behind. The open position is a desirable one and Colorado State should not settle as they did when they hired Steve Fairchild to replace Sonny Lubick.

The University must conduct their coaching search with confidence, with the attitude that a coach would be lucky to land this job. McElwain leaves behind a lot of good at Colorado State, and whoever the new coach is will walk into a good situation.

A couple of names that have come up in very casual conversation are Bob Still and Rick Dennison. Still is the long-time coach at The Colorado School of Mines and has been highly successful. It would be a big jump from Mines to Colorado State but there are many who believe that Still has been ready for a long time.

Dennison is well known in Colorado and has very close ties to the school. He played linebacker at Colorado State in the 1970’s before moving onto the Denver Broncos. Dennison was not a star but he combined his ability with his smarts and turned both into a very good career in the NFL.

Dennison is currently the offensive line coach with the Baltimore Ravens and interviewed for the Broncos head coaching position when John Fox was hired. The unknown factor with Dennison is what his level of interest would be. It’s just a guess but Dennison strikes me as a pro coach and I’d be surprised if he had any interest in the job. The one thing that could sway him is his love for Ft. Collins and Colorado State.

There will be many other names that surface over the next few days and Colorado State must take the advice of former great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” The Rams need to take the time to find the right guy but they can’t drag their feet either. The recruiting season is hitting its apex and being without a head coach for any amount of time is going to hurt.

It’s always sad to see a great coach like McElwain go but he left the Rams in a much better spot than when they were in when he arrived. Wish him well and move on. The program is on solid ground but the next hire is a crucial one in order to maintain momentum.

Don’t be sad the McElwain is gone, be happy that he was here! He did great things for Colorado State.