CSU administrator on new UF coach: 'Everybody loves Mac'
As assistant athletic director for communications, Paul Kirk spent more than two years working closely with then-Colorado State football coach Jim McElwain.
One of Kirk’s favorite memories of McElwain happened on a normal day as he waited in the entry of the football offices. The program assistant stepped away from the front desk for a few minutes:
“Not being in my own office I didn’t pay attention to the phone ringing at the front desk. Coach Mac walked out of his office toward the lobby, stopped, turned toward the phone and went to calmly answer it, ‘Colorado State football.’ The caller had a fairly common question, so Mac turned to me to double-check the information, thanked the caller and hung up. At that moment, the program assistant hurried back into the office looking horrified at the thought of Mac “having” to do that. She asked incredulously, ‘You answered the phone?’ Mac just shrugged, and without a hint of irritation or edge just said matter-of-factly, ‘Well, it was ringing.’ And on he went.”
As a football coach, McElwain earned a reputation for wearing multiple hats, excelling as a recruiter, developing talent, working with the media and putting together game plans.
It’s no surprise, then, that he does the same with the ancillary duties, like humoring significant boosters. That’s an especially crucial component at Florida, where key financial contributors have a reputation for wanting access. It also points to Jeremy Foley as an astute athletic director who did his homework on the latest hire and found a good fit for the Gators.
“Jim McElwain was incredibly accessible as head coach at Colorado State. He got out in the community and was always engaging with those he encountered. He genuinely likes people and is very personable in allowing time for interaction,” Kirk said.
“He’s very hands-on in many ways, concerned with making sure every aspect of the operation is handled right, but very capable of trusting his staff and everyone in the program to do their jobs while he maintains a broader overview from the ‘CEO’ spot. Wears that hat very well as the face of the program, while empowering the people in it to do the work they’re charged with doing.”
Balance seems to summarize McElwain’s personality according to those that know him well. Kirk described a man with an easy demeanor and high standards.
“He’s famous for encourage others to bring energy to everything they do and to affect the people around them in a positive way. He consistently does that every day,” Kirk said. “He has a great sense of humor, he’s very down to earth and respectful in the way he deals with people, but also quick to hold people accountable and apply pressure where necessary to maintain the high standard necessary for success. The result is a team and staff that truly wants to perform for him and for the program.
“Florida is getting all the best of a person and a coach with great confidence and a quietly competitive fire that burns inside. He’ll get people moving in the same direction and elevating their performance. Good energy and a great knowledge of the game, with many true friends in the business spread across the country.
“Everybody loves Mac.”