CSU press-conference transcript: McElwain introduces coaches

Whitted played in two AFC championship games and Super Bowl XXXVII

Whitted played in two AFC championship games and Super Bowl XXXVII

Feb. 7, 2012

Coach McElwain’s opening comments:
“This is an opportunity that is obviously big on my plate as well, the opportunity to introduce the guys that are going to be leading this football team. In the process of hiring a staff, I think there are a couple things that I learned as I spoke with a lot of guys that are head coaches, and have been head coaches. If there was one thing that they all gave me as a piece of advice, it was to make sure that your hires are right. Don’t jump to it, and just go get a hire, but make sure that they fit for your program, both in recruiting and personality; all the different things that are needed to have success in your program – in your organization. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have these guys on board. I’m going to give them an opportunity to come up and introduce themselves, and tell you a little bit about their background.

“The quality, not only from the experience standpoint, but a lot of these guys started out, and this was something that I liked, a lot of them started out as grass-roots guys. In other words, they’ve been in programs where whatever was needed, whether it be to paint he field, whether it was to sell popcorn at the basketball games because the different departments needed help, these guys all understand that. Yet, at the same time, they’ve worked their way up through a lot of different programs and at all levels, both major universities and BCS-level schools, as well as some NFL background in some cases as well. From an experience standpoint, I think we’ve done a great job.

“The other thing is from a recruiting standpoint. I think it is very important to get guys with regional ties to the areas that we need to go make our home. Not only, obviously, in the state of Colorado, but the different areas that we need to focus on to go get quality players and quality character athletes here at Colorado State.


 

 

“I’m going to have these guys come up and introduce themselves, so you guys get an opportunity to see them. Then, when they’re finished, we’re going to have them sit at tables.”

Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin:
“Hi guys. Dave Baldwin, offensive coordinator, coaching tight ends. Probably the old man on staff.
I’ve been in the conference, at New Mexico, as a coordinator, and of course played (CSU) last year at Utah State, so I’ve got a lot of familiarity with this program. I actually coached with Sonny Lubick and Larry Kerr when I was at Stanford.

“My mentor was a man called Jack Elway, and I guess he had some kind of famous son that turned out to be pretty good. At the time, Jack was really, really the guy. He’s passed away, but he was my mentor and led me to all these things.

“I’ve been at Michigan State, Cincinnati, Baylor, Utah State, Stanford and San Jose State, so I’ve been a lot of places. But I’m telling you, I’m truly excited to work for Coach Mac. He and I were together at Michigan State. It’s something that, when he called, I had no second thoughts about. I know the greatness in the young man that I’m going to work for. He’s got a passion for the game. He’s got a passion for players. He knows what it’s all about. It isn’t just winning, but it’s how you go through that process, and how you care for kids. When he said, ‘Could you come?’ I was on the plane coming right away.

“So I want to say thanks for having me and I’m just enjoying being here. Pretty soon (the weather) is going to clear up out there and you’ll see me walking with a Diet Coke at all times.”

Director of football operations Tom Ehlers
“My name is Tom Ehlers and I’ve been here a number of years. I guess I’ve played and coached for the last six head coaches and it’s just great to see a coach like Coach McElwain come in and really tie the history and traditions, and honor what we’ve done here. I really look forward to how it’s all lined up to move this program where we all know it can be.

“He’s hired a great staff, and he’s just really doing some neat things. He’s going to take it to where it should be. Those of us that have been in the program are really excited. I will continue my role as director of football operations, helping you (the media) out to some degree with (director of media relations) Zak (Gilbert). I’m looking forward to it.”

Defensive line coach Marty English
“Again, like everyone else, I’d like to thank Coach Mac for giving us the opportunity to be on such a great staff, and be part of where we’re going to go with this program. I’m kind of a local guy in the sense that I grew up down in Denver. I went to Alameda High School and my dad coached at Kennedy High School for 30-some years.

“I got into coaching at the University of Northern Colorado. I was there with a mentor of mine, and a friend of Coach Mac’s, Joe Glenn. I stayed with Joe, for about 13 years, and then stayed on there with a guy named Kay Dalton, who is in the Hall of Fame here (at Colorado State). I stayed with Coach Dalton for three more years and then went to Wyoming with Joe (Glenn). I was there with him for six years and then stayed on with Dave Christensen for the last three years. But I am really glad to be back here, in the state of Colorado, and Colorado State University. That’s what you’ve got with me.

“I’ll be coaching the defensive line. And, again, I’m really glad to be a part of this great staff.”

On getting to know the players: “I’ve got to come in here and learn all this; I do know the roster and I do know the kids. I’ve got to spend some time around them.”

Offensive line coach Derek Frazier
“I’m Derek Frazier. I’m going to be coaching the offensive line and I’m happy to be back. I’m from Fort Collins. I graduated from Rocky Mountain High School, then went on to play at Northern Colorado. So I’m really excited to be back in Fort Collins and be a part of the Colorado State Ram family.

"My background, I started at Northern Colorado. After playing there I went to a high school in Alaska for a season at Juneau Douglas High School. From there I went to a small Division III school in Massachusetts called Nichols College. From Nichols College, I had the opportunity to come down to Adams State here in Southern Colorado. I was there for two years and then had the opportunity to go get a graduate assistantship at Fresno State, where I was for two years. From there, I got hired on at Northern Arizona, where I spent one season, and then had the opportunity to come back to Fresno State where I was the past six years.

“Now, I’m here in Fort Collins, back home. And I’m very fired up to be a part of this excitement, and this family. I’m ready to get going and dive into this great program.”

On feelings of coming back home: “It’s special because I’ve grown up watching Colorado State football, going to the games on Saturday when I was a little kid, what that tradition is here, at Colorado State. I’m just really fired up. I’m excited that Coach McElwain wants me to come join his staff and be a part of this Ram football family. The excitement that coming with it, like I said, I can’t wait to get started and just fired up to that.”

On his specific excitement about the upcoming season: “Right now, what Mr. Graham and Coach McElwain have going on, the excitement and direction of the Ram football family. It’s exciting, the energy of it; I just can’t wait to get started, getting into meeting with all the players and meeting with people involved in this program.”

Recruiting coordinator Tim Duffie
“Hey guys, I’m Tim Duffie. I’ve been here the last four years and I’m very thankful to still be part of this staff. I’m very thankful to (Director of Athletics) Mr. Jack Graham, Coach Mac, and just to be a part of the great staff that we have here. I’m really excited about the direction we’re going and I can’t wait until spring ball kicks off to get involved with our kids. I’m just excited to be here and very thankful to stand in front of you today.”

On being a part of CSU football: “Obviously, just having the chance to be a part of something special, here at Colorado State. Giving the community it deserves is exciting for me and my family.

On the hiring process: “It’s tough, having friends that are on their way out and trying to find something. But at the same time, you’re blessed to be a part and very thankful to have an opportunity to work for a guy like Coach McElwain and get this thing turned the way we want it.”

On the energy spawned by the addition of Jim McElwain: “You can feel the energy, from the standpoint of just excitement. You can feel it in the community and everybody is just excited about just having a national championship coach here in Fort Collins. Two years ago, a year ago, just being a part of that, watching a national championship game knowing that your future head coach is coaching that game. To actually go out and win it and then win two of those things here, in four years, I just can’t believe it. We all know that he is an outstanding coach, an outstanding person and we’re just glad to have him in the community of Fort Collins.”

On expectations of a bowl game this season: “That is always an expectation. My expectation is to win every game. My expectation is to play in a national championship game, and be a BCS-buster type team. I think this is what this community deserves and that is the expectation and the standard. You listen to Jack Graham; he’s not talking about being 6-6 and not being 4-10, not being 3-9. I think, we understand that in order to win a football game here, and not just winning games, we should win in games that people don’t expect us to be in.”

Special teams coordinator Jeff Hammerschmidt
“I appreciate you having me. I’m Jeff Hammerschmidt, and I’ll be coaching special teams.

“I was almost born and raised here at Colorado State. I went to the University of Arizona, but Dan (brother and former CSU player and assistant coach) went here, so I have a really strong feeling for Colorado State. I am very thankful to Coach Mac, when this opportunity opened up, that I had a chance to get back up here. Again, I’ve spent a lot of time up here, and I feel really strong about Colorado State.

“I could give you my whole history, but I have a long history. My last stop was my alma mater, Arizona. From there, I’m here doing the same thing. I’m excited to be here.”

Assistant strength & conditioning coach Rashad Harris
“Good afternoon, guys. My name is Rashad Harris and originally I’m from Huntsville, Ala. I went to Athens High School where Philip Rivers was my teammate. I guess you guys know that guy from the (San Diego) Chargers.

“From there I went to play at the University of Louisville from 1997-2000, and I played a little bit afterward. It was there that I decided to get into coaching. I was fortunate enough to get a graduate assistantship, and I was coaching defensive line and working with Coach Mac on special teams.
From there, I chose to coach in high school, and teach in high school, for six years at St. Xavier in Louisville, Ky. I learned from a guy, Bill Glazer, who coached at Kentucky for about 20 years. I know a lot of what I have to bring to Colorado State comes from him, along with some other people.

“I’m very thankful to be working for Coach Mac again, and also with Coach Mike Kent, who was my strength coach at Louisville in 2000. I was fortunate enough to spend one season with him, and I’m blessed to be working with him again.”

Head football strength & conditioning coach Mike Kent
“My name is Mke Kent. I’m the head strength coach here. I’ve been doing this for a number of years. If you notice, I’ve got a gravely voice and part of that goes with the territory, and part of that is because of those young men (pointing at DE Nordly Capi and OL Brandon Haynes).

“I’m really excited to be around our guys here. I started coaching as a student-assistant in 1981 in Fairmont, W.Va., at Fairmont State College. I didn’t get to play my senior year – I hurt myself – so I started out years ago, and I’ve been all over the place.

“My connection with Coach Mac is the University of Louisville when Rashad (Harris) was a player. After I left Louisville, I was at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. Then, I found Dorothy out in Manhattan, Kan., at Kansas State University.

“Then I went back home, to what I consider home, the mountains of North Carolina, and Appalachian State University. I was there for nine years and my wife and I consider Boone, N.C., home. But, we are very, very excited.

“If you talk to these gentlemen (pointing at Capi and Haynes) over there, we’ve been working with our athletes, we’re approximately on Week 4 of our offseason, and we are very, very fortunate that these young men have committed themselves to our vision of what we’re doing from a strength and conditioning standpoint. It’s been a blessing. I don’t know if, in my career, I’ve had a bunch of players collectively embrace us the way they have in the last four weeks. So that has been just absolutely awesome. We’re really looking forward to the future and the product that we’re going to put on the field in August.

“We’re so excited. Our families aren’t here. Rashad and I are roommates down here at New Colony. A little shout out for New Colony Apartments. We don’t have any furniture, no TVs, but we’ve got the best blow-up mattresses this side of the Mississippi River. So we’re that excited to be here and I appreciate it.”
 
Assistant head coach & quarterbacks coach Billy Napier
“Guys, how are we doing? My name is Billy Napier and I’ll be coaching the quarterbacks. I’m really blessed to have a chance to work with Coach Mac. As you guys spend more time with him, you’re going to see that he is a special person and a special leader. I think we’ve got a great group of competitors here on this staff and in the organization and we’re really looking forward to the challenge of getting CSU football back where it needs to be. I’m really excited about the direction under Jack Graham, and the things that he’s bringing.

“A little bit about me: I grew up in Georgia. My dad was a high-school coach and I have two brothers that coach high-school football. There was never any question that that’s what I wanted to do. It happened to be in the college game. I really, really believe in the game of football and the things that it can help young men with down the road. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity of getting this program back where it needs to be.”

On the ideal makeup of his starting CSU quarterback, whoever that might be: “I really believe that our quarterback is going to be a guy who can put us in position to win games. Game management is obviously a huge deal, accuracy, decision-making and taking care of the ball. If the guy happens to be a great athlete, can do all those things, that’s gravy. That’s icing on the cake. We’re looking for a leader, we’re looking for a guy that can throw completions and get us in and out of good plays, and has the athletic ability in the factors that weigh into the success in that position.”

On third-down conversions: “Third down is obviously a huge part of every game plan. That will be a huge emphasis, on those plays within each game plan. Trying to keep third down manageable I think is important. Those are things like concepts, the goals and things that are associated with playing and winning football that we’ll get to as we install the offense. We’ll practice situation football in the spring.”

Linebackers coach Tim Skipper
“I’m Tim Skipper, and I came from Fresno State. I grew up in New Orleans, so seeing this snow fall is a little different for me, but I’m getting used to it.

“Two reasons why I’m here: First, the obvious one, is Coach Mac asked me to be here. And secondly, Coach McElwain and Jack Graham’s vision, the beliefs, the goals and the family atmosphere that they’re building here. I can’t miss out on that. I think this is a special time. I think you can feel it in the air if you’ve been around, paying attention to what’s going on.

“I played ball at Fresno State as well, and I came here in the late ‘90s and we got blown out of the stadium. The team was playing on a high level, and I expect to get back to that and I am excited to get back to that.

“I know Coach McElwain is one of the brightest coaches that there is in football. I got to work with him at Fresno State; I was the running backs coach and he was the offensive coordinator. So I know what he can do first-hand. Just listening to the way Jack Graham talks, you know he’s going to get it done. So I’m excited, ready and confident that this is a special place here and I’m ready to get it started. Thank you.”

On his memories of Fort Collins and CSU football: “Playing against Colorado State here in Fort Collins, and seeing the excitement in that stadium. Also, what winning can do here and how excited the community gets behind the team. That’s what really excites me here. Working with Coach McElwain, knowing the family atmosphere he’s going to have, and his passion and knowledge for the game.”

On looking forward to the season: “I’m kind of one of those guys that thinks football is an ultimate team game. The only way we’re going to win is getting everybody on one heartbeat. So it’s a bunch of individuals playing together for each other. I’m thinking more about the mental part of the game, and not so much about the athleticism and all of that; that will come. We’ve got to get them mentally sharp and mentally right and mentally produce on the field, and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted
“Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Alvis Whitted. I’ll be coaching the wide receivers here, and I just want to say that I am humbled and honored for this opportunity to be here. As a young coach it is very important for me to be around a good man, and a good staff and I think that is what we really have assembled here. I am very excited, again, about this opportunity and the direction we’re going.

“A little bit about myself, I’m a native of Durham, N.C. I played at my college, North Carolina State University; graduated in 1998. I had good fortune to be drafted in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. I played there for four years, but then I was a free agent, went to the Atlanta Falcons, and from there left to go to the big air, the Oakland Raiders, and had the good fortune of meeting Coach McElwain there and being coached by him. So, again guys I just want to thank you for having me. I’m excited, again, about the way we’re going and the staff we have and it’s going to be an exciting time. Hope you guys are looking forward to it. Thank you.”

On working with young players: “Right now, I’m just glad to be here. I know that we have a good group of guys, but from what I understand, we are all going to buy into one thing, and that’s team. The quicker we buy into that, the more successful we’ll be as a football team. I’m excited to have all those young guys because they’ll know what we’re trying to get accomplished and get across. It’s just a good opportunity to be here and I like the direction we’re going.”

On his resume, which includes nine years of NFL playing experience:  “It’s not about me. It’s really about coaching style, and how I can help them. I can help them by not only being a former pro football player, but as a man. Just from the lessons I’ve learned as a pro football player, going through adversity, things of that nature, and to really help them. That is really my main focus, to help them be better people first of all, then be better football players.”

On a CSU wide receiver that impresses him so far: “Right now, I just got here, yesterday. Right now, I really haven’t had a good time to evaluate everyone’s performance, from a personnel standpoint. Once I get settled in, I’ll definitely get a good feel for what we have here, what our strengths and weaknesses are, what we can do to get better and just go from there.” 
 
Coach McElwain’s closing comments.
“Hey guys, before we get a chance to visit, just so you can kind of understand, there will be one more addition to our staff, as well as a couple additions to our support staff that will be coming on board here, probably within the next week and-a-half. One of the things you are going to see is from a defensive-coordinator standpoint, we have that kind of ready to roll; there are some contract things that we’ve got to take care of before we get that out there. Obviously, as soon as that hits we’ll make sure we get that to you guys at that point. So any questions regarding that, there is nothing really we can do until we get contract things organized.

“However, I just want each and every one of you guys to know that I think throughout your relationship with this staff that we have assembled here, you’re going to see not only the quality of coaches as you see them coach on the field, but also the quality of character and the way that they care about young men, the way that they want to influence young men’s lives in the future for them to be successful. And that was really important, modeled as far as collectively getting this group of guys together. So, at this point, I’m going to have them sit at some tables. You guys feel free to ask them whatever question you want to, but remember the rule, you can ask them whatever question you want, as long as it’s not a stupid question. Is that good? OK. So they’ll be there for you guys and have at it. Now look, I’ve got to get them back in meetings shortly, just so you know. Alright, thanks guys and I appreciate everybody coming.”

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