Fort Collins, CO. It has certainly been a rough several years for the Colorado State Rams football program, as it now enters what is hopefully a brand new, successful era under head coach Jim McElwain. To say that this offseason was a tumultuous one is a major understatement. First, after a third consecutive disappointing 3-9 season, Steve Fairchild was fired. He was then replaced by McElwain, who won a National Championship last year as the offensive coordinator at Alabama. Then a few months ago, we had the off campus fight which involved three prominent defensive players. Mike Orakpo, Nordly Capi, and Colton Paulhaus were all expelled from school following the investigation, which has left a black eye on the program and the university. So here we are, with just a little over a month until the Rams play the University of Colorado in their annual battle, Colorado State is merely trying to pick up the pieces.
When Steve Fairchild was hired prior to the 2008 season, it was viewed by most as a great addition and something that would take the Rams in the right direction. In his first year, CSU went 7-6, and won the New Mexico Bowl over Fresno State. Things were looking up, and alumni were excited about the possibility of returning to Mountain West Conference prominence. 2009 would produce a surprising 3-9 finish, followed by another 3-9 finish in 2010, and yet another 3-9 finish in 2011. The wheels had fallen off the Rams wagon, and new Athletic Director Jack Graham didn’t wait long to release Fairchild of his head coaching duties. When news broke last December that the new football coach would be an assistant from the University of Alabama, eyebrows raised, and in a good way. Jim McElwain, who won two National Championships as offensive coordinator at Alabama, took the head coaching position in Fort Collins. He now has the job of cleaning up a messy program, one that has slipped severely over the past decade or so. Hiring McElwain is more than any CSU alum could have hoped for, as his winning attitude and experience within a top notch program will only add credibility to Colorado State going forward.
At the annual Mountain West Conference meetings, it was announced on Tuesday that the media has predicted Colorado State to finish 8th this year, ahead of only UNLV and New Mexico. Anyone who has followed the program knows this is not surprising news, and an 8th place finish in 2012 would not shock anybody. Colorado State has officially begun rebuilding mode, one that will take several years more than likely. But the pieces are in place for CSU to eventually climb that mountain and be relevant again, within the state of Colorado and nationally as well. It appears that the new on-campus stadium could get the official thumbs up in the near future, which would add a ton of excitement in Fort Collins. But most importantly, the man now leading the Rams may end up being the biggest piece in completing this difficult puzzle. Head Coach Jim McElwain has the toughest task of all….changing the attitude up north and making Colorado State a perennial winner.
Denver Sports by J Simp