For the Colorado State Rams, as is the case with many of the biggest college programs, football has become a year-round sport. It’s no longer an August through December commitment–no, it’s much more than that.
Welcome to the Bold New Era, where Director of Athletics Jack Graham and head coach Jim McElwain are dedicated to making CSU a nationally recognized name and a powerhouse.
It’s a long and arduous journey and both of them acknowledge it, but Graham knew when he was hiring McElwain that Coach Mac would bring along the knowledge from the Alabama Crimson Tide and the understanding of how to make it happen.
McElwain’s recipe for success sounds simple, but is much more difficult in practice. Throughout his first season as the Rams head man, he’s repeatedly said the goal is to “be excellent every day,” and it’s clear he means every day.
The recruiting season has just wrapped up and the coach has already begun on 2014’s class.
As for his team, they’re already preparing for the 2013 season as they take part in the off-season strength and conditioning program called Ram U. There wasn’t any program near this level at the school before, at least not under the last regime before McElwain. The players are practicing hard to learn the ins and outs of their positions. They’re working diligently in the weight room to bulk up their bodies and they’re even taking part in mental training courses.
In three weeks, Spring Practices begin, a way for the players to remain sharp and for new additions to learn about how the team operates. Better yet, there are three practices open to the public, including the Spring Game on April 20.
Over the summer, players aren’t forced to practice or lift weights, but McElwain has made it clear that the work done in the off-season will lead to success on the gridiron. Without a doubt, there will be many players showing up to continue their hard work in preparation for the season, which continues in August with the beginning of Fall Practices–working under the hot sun, sometimes twice a day, to become a force in the Mountain West Conference.
The work done in the month before the season is likely the most important in the development of the team. It’s where they learn to trust one another and their coaches.
Of course, September brings the beginning of the season, which won’t end until December – January, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a big-time bowl game – only to start all over again.
It’s an amazing amount of work these select student-athletes are subjected to and both Graham and McElwain have made it clear they expect the players to excel in the class room as well as on the field.
With this wonderful work ethic, the Rams are being set up for success and it’s only a matter of time until we see the results on the field.