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Posts Tagged ‘Jim McElwain’

A Bad Day for Colorado, Team and State

Oh, Colorado – the state, but also you, Colorado, the team. It was not a good day for the two F.B.S. programs inside the state’s borders, the Buffaloes and Rams, both of whom suffered ugly losses to F.C.S. competition. It started with Colorado, which seesawed back and forth with mighty Sacramento State before falling, 30-28, to drop to 0-2 on the young season. At least Colorado State’s already won a game – against Colorado, unfortunately. Later in the day, following in their rival’s footsteps, the Rams were shoved around by North Dakota State in a 22-7 loss.

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    Picture the M.W.C. in 2013 and Beyond

    Upon further review of today’s post on Colorado State, one line that I first viewed as a throwaway quote seemed worthy of future examination: “The Mountain West will have a power vacuum after this season,” I wrote, “and there’s no reason why the Rams, after one or two seasons of development, can’t be one of two or three teams capable of filling the void.” While this idea — that the Mountain West will be up for grabs beginning in 2013 — has no impact on Colorado State’s coming season, the idea that the Rams stand as one of a few teams in line to take control of this Boise State-free league come next fall is an important factor for the program to consider as it struggles through an inevitable first-year learning curve under former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.

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      No. 106: Colorado State

      Tomorrow is more important than today at the vast majority of programs in the F.B.S. Those that value the present over the future are those that expect domination as a birthright, and it’s not a long list: Alabama, L.S.U., Ohio State, U.S.C. and their kin, those programs who first moved to the forefront of the sport generations ago and have, with a few speed bumps, remained atop the heap in the decades since. Colorado State isn’t one of those schools, and certainly isn’t one of those schools in 2012, when former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain steps into Steve Fairchild’s mess. Those that stay firmly in the present would have suspended but not dismissed Mike Orakpo, Nordly Capi and Colton Paulhus, the three student-athletes arrested earlier this spring after a “savage beating” of four university freshmen. That McElwain dismissed the three, two of whom were all-conference defenders, sends a heartening signal: despite his pedigree, McElwain knows that in Fort Collins, tomorrow is more important than today. Keeping Orakpo, Capi and Paulhus on the roster might have led the Rams to another win or two in 2012, but at what cost?

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        For 13 Teams, Losing Culture Carries Over

        Middle Tennessee State is in the same boat as 12 other programs in college football. The Blue Raiders, like the dozen others, enters 2012 on at least a five-game losing streak. How this team stumbled over the second half of last season raises some important questions about the program’s future under Rick Stockstill, whose career record at Middle Tennessee now falls under .500 after six years with the program. For nearly half of the 13 teams, last year’s sluggish finish has led to significant changes: six have since made a coaching change. Middle Tennessee opted to stand pat, but like every team that heads into the fall on at least a five-game losing streak, changes are afoot.

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          The First Big Test of Jim McElain’s Tenure

          Jim McElwain already had his hands full. For starters, Colorado State’s first-year coach has to implement his new offensive scheme: this will dominate the Rams’ spring, which kicked off on March 22. Then there’s the task of redoing the sort of team-wide malaise that seemed to grip this program over its last two years-plus under Steve Fairchild, who was fired at the end of last season. Tied into that later task, perhaps, is cleaning up another sort of mess altogether: Last Friday, three players were arrested for what the Fort Collins Coloradoan termed a “savage beating” of four freshmen students at an off-campus party. In this, not the implementation of a new offense, McElwain faces his first test as a head coach.

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            Colorado St., McElwain’s Bird In the Bush

            Jim McElwain was close to agreeing to terms with Memphis before withdrawing his name from consideration. That wasn’t a terrible decision, even if the alternative was returning to Alabama as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator; F.B.S. jobs don’t come along every year, but given McElwain’s career trajectory, he could probably wait for the next train. Then McElwain became one of Fresno State’s two finalists, perhaps the top choice, for the position left vacant by Pat Hill’s dismissal. Again, as at Memphis, McElwain turned the Bulldogs down.

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              Filling in the Blanks at 10 Open Spots

              Coach-heavy today, and fairly negative at that. But it’s that time of year, folks. There were 13 open jobs as of yesterday afternoon, but the night closed with a flourish: Charlie Weis to Kansas, most notably, but Notre Dame offensive coordinator Charley Molnar also agreed to terms with Massachusetts, which begins transitioning to the F.B.S. in 2012. Earlier today, Illinois hired Toledo’s Tim Beckman, who recently completed his second straight eight-win season. That leaves 10 spots yet to be filled, with some schools clearly zeroing in on a target while others flop around as names quickly drop off the board.

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                Thinking About Who’s Next at Arizona

                Where does Arizona go next? Defensive coordinator Tim Kish will run the show for the rest of 2011, but we know the track record of interim coaches becoming the permanent replacement at the end of their partial-season audition: there have been coaches who parlayed a short stint into the full-time position, but it’s a short list. Barring the near-impossible, the overwhelming odds point towards athletic director Greg Byrne and Arizona opening up the job formerly held by Mike Stoops to a nationwide search. Does the university want someone with prior head coach experience? An offensive-minded coach, a defense-first coach? Perhaps the only certainty is that Arizona wants a coach with a more stoic, less demonstrative manner – the anti-Stoops, in short. Let’s look at a few names the Wildcats may consider:

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.