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Jim McElwain Brings Saban Influence to Colorado State

New Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain has had a number of influences throughout his career: The longtime assistant coach has 25 years of experience with six different college programs and one NFL franchise. As Kelly Lyell of The (Ft. Collins) Coloradoan reports, a large chunk of that experience comes from McElwain's previous job as offensive coordinator at Alabama:

[I]t's no surprise that the new CSU coach is borrowing heavily from what he learned there while working for Nick Saban.

McElwain insists that his players keep their lockers neat and orderly, wear the same color socks and keep their jerseys tucked in during practices and look out for each other as if they were brothers, both on and off the field. He created a 16-class mental conditioning program with a Colorado State University doctoral candidate that is modeled after the ones IMG runs at Alabama and a handful of other powerhouse college football programs.

McElwain is also stocking practices with additional coaches and staff, closing practice to the press and public, and prohibiting players and assistant coaches from talking to the media -- all rules adopted from Saban.

The first-time head coach says the Colorado State offense will more closely resemble the pro-style system of his days with legendary Eastern Washington head coach Dick Zornes, but his defense will be pure Saban: a 3-4 formation and heavy on stunts and blitzes.

For their part, the players are buying in:

"Every time he speaks, you just feel it in your soul," Marquise Law said. "You just want to go to war for him. Every time I hear Coach Mac speak, it's like I'm hearing him for the first time."


"Alabama's a hell of a football team, but we're not them, and they're not us. I think he's really embraced us. He's our head guy, and all of us can't wait to follow him onto the field."

Colorado State opens its 2012 season next Saturday against Colorado in Denver.

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