Nov. 28, 2012
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Measures of success comes in many different forms.
Certainly in athletics, the major metric is wins and losses. But progress can be measured in other ways, too.
Colorado State's football team won four games in coach Jim McElwain's inaugural season, winning three of the team's final five games including three home Mountain West contests in succession.
McElwain will be the first to admit while he was pleased with the progress and effort of his team, he won't ever be satisfied with winning four games.
"I didn't expect to have only this many wins," he admitted following CSU's 24-20 victory over New Mexico in the season finale. "That's unacceptable. That part was hard. But I also saw some guys in that room getting better, just getting a little bit better. I think we got better."
McElwain said he saw progress throughout the season, especially down the stretch. He also said seniors on this year's squad helped lay the foundation for future success.
"I'm proud of what they've done," he said, "and will be proud to see them walk across that stage when they graduate."
McElwains' influence was felt not only on the field with consistent improvement, but throughout the program.
Senior linebacker James Skelton said McElwain's influence permeated the entire program.
"He came in and gave us a breath of fresh air," Skelton said. "Everybody's attitudes just got really positive. Everybody was working harder than I've ever seen them work. You can tell that Coach Mac just cares, and when you know your coach cares about you that just makes you play that much harder."
"It's unfortunate that our record doesn't show the results that we wanted it to, but I definitely think in terms of character and where this team is going in the future, that it's going to reflect that very soon," Skelton added.
Skelton wasn't alone in his praise for McElwain and his staff.
"The biggest emphasis is that he lets us know, `you guys are not just representing yourselves,'" said senior wide receiver Marquise Law. "A lot of guys do things and they're only thinking of themselves at the time. He lets us know that, `this is for everybody; this is for your family back home, for your grandparents, this is for the team--your brothers. It's for everybody who believes in you and looks up to you, and that makes you think about your decisions a lot more than you would if you were just thinking like you were in the past, like `this only affects me.'"
Skelton said it isn't simply McElwain's knowledge of the game - which is vast - but how much he cares about those in his program.
"One day when Momo (Thomas) got hurt, I think it was really early in the season, maybe fall camp," Skelton explained. "He had hurt his ankle or something, and were all walking out to practice, and we walked by the training room and we see Coach Mac helping him get his cleat on. You just don't see that from many coaches. I've never seen that."
Skelton, Law and senior classmates have given way to the players McElwain will look to even more next season. Most immediately, the staff is on the road recruiting a class of approximately 26 national letter of intent signees. But before those seniors departed, McElwain motivated the Rams during a team meeting prior to the game with the Lobos.
"Coach had the seniors stand up and leave the room," described sophomore cornerback Bernard Blake. "When they left the room, he asked how it felt a little light in here. And you looked around, and you got to thinking how you cared about those guys that you had relationships and bonds." He said, `It's up to you guys to send them off on a win.' We got down in the game--we went up early and then they came back and we were down--and you look up and down the sideline and not a single head was down. Everyone had the belief and it was going around that we were going to win it for the seniors. That just goes to prove so much as compared to last season."
McElwain's dedication to detail and focus on academics has earned the respect of departing and returning players alike.
"Raise the level of preparation. Coach Mac is huge on academics," Blake said. "Just becoming more of a family and helping each other out. So just guys helping out guys and getting to know each other better."
Sophomore wide receiver Charles Lovett said he knows McElwain is there for his players.
"Coach Mac is going to be there for us off the field, after we graduate," Lovett said. "We know that he doesn't only care about football, I mean of course he's the head coach so he's going to care about football, but, that he shows us that what's more important is our grades, our families, how we're doing off the field, how's life."
When spring practice arrives, Lovett and Blake will be among those expected to carry forward the goals established in2012.
Included among the spring practices will be a workout at Infinity Park in Denver on April 12. The spring game is scheduled for April 20.
Tickets to all home events are available in one of the following convenient manners:
• In person: Tickets can be purchased at the McGraw Athletic Center ticket window, which is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
• On the phone: Fans can call toll free at 1-800-491-RAMS (7267) to purchase tickets to any Rams sporting event.
Online: Tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week at CSURams.com, the official Web site of Rams Athletics.
Note: Prices do not include fees for processing ($1 per ticket) or delivery - $2 print-at-home, $7 mail and $10 will call.>
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