CSURAMS.COM Alabama's Offensive Coordinator Named CSU Football Coach - Colorado State University Official Athletic Site Colorado State University Official Athletic Site - Football
Alabama's Offensive Coordinator Named CSU Football Coach

Jim McElwain becomes the 20th head football coach in Colorado State program history.

Dec. 13, 2011

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Jim McElwain's bio

FORT COLLINSDecember 13, 2011Jim 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.”

Jim McElwain

Career Highlights

  • University of Alabama, Offensive Coordinator

McElwain became offensive coordinator at Alabama Jan. 30, 2008. During his tenure with the Crimson Tide, he’s been credited with developing a balanced offensive attack. Alabama in 2008 was 12-2, was 14-0 in 2009 and won the national championship in a year in which Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding player. This season, Alabama is 11-1 and will battle LSU Jan. 9 in New Orleans for the national championship.

  • Fresno State, Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach

He served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Fresno State in 2007 and helped the Bulldogs win the Humanitarian Bowl and finish with a 9-4 record. He is credited with significantly improving Fresno State’s offense.

  • Oakland Raiders, Quarterbacks Coach

He was quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders for the 2006 season.

  • Michigan State, Assistant Head Coach

From 2003-2005, he was assistant head coach at Michigan State and oversaw receivers and special teams for the Spartans.

  • University of Louisville, Receivers and Special Teams Coach

He served for three seasons at Louisville as special teams and receivers coach for the Cardinals.

  • Montana State, Offensive Coordinator

From 1995-1999 served as offensive coordinator, receivers and special teams coach at Montana State.

  • Eastern Washington

Began his career at his alma mater, Eastern Washington, from 1985-1994, working his way up from graduate assistant to eventually serving as quarterbacks and receivers coach.


  • Graduated with a Bachelor’s in Education in 1984 from Eastern Washington University, where he played quarterback from 1980-83.


  • A native of Missoula, McElwain was an all-state quarterback at Sentinel High School.
  • McElwain and his wife, Karen, have three children, JoHanna, Elizabeth and Jerret.



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