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James McElwain (born March 1, 1962) is an American football coach and former player. He is the current head coach of the Florida Gators where he was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 2015, his first year at the program. He previously served as the head coach at Colorado State from 2012 to 2014 and was named the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in 2014. He also served as offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2008 to 2011.Contents
James Frank McElwain was born in Missoula, Montana in 1962. He played quarterback at Sentinel High School in Missoula where he was chosen as an all-state quarterback. He then went on to play quarterback in college at Eastern Washington from 1980 to 1983, and he earned a degree in education.Coaching career Early career
After graduating from Eastern Washington he stayed there as a graduate assistant and was eventually given the job of quarterbacks and receivers coach. During his stint as a coach there from 1985 to 1994 his team made its way to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs twice and won the Big Sky championship in 1992 under head coach Dick Zornes. From Eastern Washington, McElwain took an offensive coordinator position at Montana State. He enjoyed a successful career with the Bobcats from 1995 to 1999, and coached the offense to the number one scoring offense in the Big Sky Conference in 1998 with 31.6 points per game.
His first coaching job in Division I-A football was at University of Louisville where he was the receivers and special teams coach from 2000 to 2002. At Louisville he tutored All-Conference USA receivers Arnold Jackson, Deion Branch, Damien Dorsey and Zek Parker. Also his special teams set a school record of nine blocked kicks in 2000–2001 season. He was then offered the assistant head coaching position at Michigan State when he followed Louisville's head coach John L. Smith there. With the Spartans his coaching of the receivers and special teams helped lead them to the Alamo Bowl in his first season.Oakland Raiders
McElwain's coaching stint in the National Football League was brief. After his success at Michigan State, he was offered a job to be the quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders. He was with them for one year in which the Oakland Raiders ended the season 2–14. When head coach Art Shell was dismissed following the season, so were several of the assistant coaches, including Coach McElwain.Return to college football: Fresno State
In 2007, McElwain accepted a job to become the offensive coordinator at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State). With the Fresno State Bulldogs he built a powerhouse offense which ranked 38th in the country averaging 419.5 yards a game and 32nd in the nation in points per game with 32.9. He helped lead the 2007 Fresno State team to a 9–4 record on the year including a win over Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.University of Alabama
On February 1, 2008, McElwain accepted an offer from Nick Saban to be the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama. In his first season as the offensive coordinator, the Crimson Tide finished the regular season 12–0, before falling to the University of Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game and the University of Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
In 2009, his offense led the Crimson Tide to a 12–0 regular season record. They then went on to defeat the number one team in the country, the Florida Gators, in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. There his offense dominated the Gators number one defense in the country and compiled 490 yards of offense, more than twice the yards the Gators defense had averaged giving up all year. McElwain's offense outrushed the Gators' offense 251 yards to 88 yards, 63 of those yards coming from the 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow. His offense put up 32 points and held on to the ball for 39 minutes and 37 seconds, almost twice the Gators total of 20 minutes and 23 seconds. Alabama went on to beat the Texas Longhorns in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. In 2011, the Crimson Tide finished the season with a 12–1 record, and beat the LSU Tigers 21–0 in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.Colorado State
On December 12, 2011, sources revealed that McElwain had accepted the head coaching position with Colorado State. A press conference was held at the Colorado State University Rams indoor practice facility on December 13, 2011 to officially announce the hiring.
McElwain's tenure, dubbed by the school's athletic department as "A Bold New Era", began on a high note. McElwain's Rams rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat arch-rival Colorado 22–17 at Sports Authority Field in Denver on September 1. McElwain became the first CSU coach to win his debut since Jerry Wampfler in 1970 and the first to ever win his debut against CU. The momentum didn't last long, though, as CSU suffered a 22–9 setback in their home opener one week later to defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State, the start of a six-game losing skid. The program showed improvement towards the end of the season, winning three of their final five games to finish 4–8 in McElwain's first season.
McElwain's second season with CSU was much more successful. CSU began the season losing their first two games, both of which they had led in the 4th quarter. However, CSU finished the season winning 8 of its next 12 games. McElwain finished his second season with a record of 8–6 after CSU's miraculous comeback win in the New Mexico Bowl.
His third season with CSU led to even greater accomplishments. After a Week 2 loss at Boise State, the Rams reeled off 9 straight wins, climbing as high as #21 in the national rankings, and being in the conversation for a possible New Year's Day bowl bid. Those hopes were dashed, however, in their final regular season game at Air Force, when the Falcons hit a game-winning field goal as time expired, finishing CSU's regular season at 10–2. Notwithstanding this loss, the Rams were noted for a powerful offense throughout the year. Colorado State averages 498 yards per game (13th best in the nation), while boasting the nation's second most efficient quarterback in Garrett Grayson and the top receiver by yards per game (149.1) and touchdowns (17) in Rashard Higgins. Under McElwain, the Rams were one of only two "Group of 5" teams with victories in 2014 over two Power 5 conference teams, defeating both Colorado and Boston College.
As a result of the successful transformation of the program, McElwain was named the Mountain West Conference's coach of the year on December 2, 2014.University of Florida
On December 4, 2014, ESPN reported that McElwain had agreed to become head coach of the University of Florida.
The Gators won in McElwain's debut on September 5, 2015 against New Mexico State 61–13. The Gators' regular season record under McElwain was 10–2, which included a 38–10 upset against No. 3 Ole Miss that moved the Gators to No. 11 the following week. Following the year-long suspension of quarterback Will Grier, the Gators lost to LSU 28–35. He led the Gators to their first SEC Eastern Division championship since 2009 with a 9–7 win over Vanderbilt, becoming the first coach to win an SEC Eastern Division championship in his first year. After clinching the SEC Eastern Division championship, the Gators season fell apart with losses to Florida State, Alabama, and Michigan.
McElwain was named the 2015 SEC Coach of the Year.
McElwain came under fire in 2017 when a photo of a man, who looks similar to him, naked and in a compromising position with a shark on a boat surfaced on the internet. McElwain denied the allegations that he was the man in the photo, who was subsequently identified as a retired New York City police officer.Personal life
Jim McElwain is married to Karen McElwain, and has two daughters Johanna and Elizabeth, and one son Jerrett.
He was radio personality Colin Cowherd's roommate in college at Eastern Washington.Head coaching record Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP° Colorado State Rams (Mountain West Conference) (2012–2014) 2012 Colorado State 4–8 3–5 T–6th 2013 Colorado State 8–6 5–3 3rd (Mountain) W New Mexico 2014 Colorado State 10–3 6–2 T–2nd (Mountain) Las Vegas* Colorado State: 22–16 14–10 * Did not coach bowl game Florida Gators (Southeastern Conference) (2015–present) 2015 Florida 10–4 7–1 1st (Eastern) L Citrus 25 25 2016 Florida 9–4 6–2 1st (Eastern) W Outback 13 14 2017 Florida 0–0 0–0 (Eastern) Florida: 19–8 13–3 Total: 41–24 National championship Conference title Conference division title
Assistant coaches under Jim McElwain who became NCAA head coaches:
Pound sign (#) denotes interim head coach.
Pound sign (#) denotes interim head coach.