Jim McElwain reflects on tenure at Alabama

Alabama outgoing offensive coordinator Jim McElwain (WBRC video)
Alabama outgoing offensive coordinator Jim McElwain (WBRC video)

NEW ORLEANS (WBRC) - Alabama outgoing offensive coordinator Jim McElwain says, in the four years working for head coach Nick Saban, there has never been any friction over the game plan.

"No, there's never been.  I couldn't have asked for a better experience.  Coach Saban is all about helping.  He's all about the whole team.  All three phases of the game."

McElwain talked Thursday to reporters in New Orleans as the Crimson Tide prepares to play the LSU Tigers in Monday's BCS National Championship game. McElwain last month announced he would leave Alabama to become the new head coach at Colorado State.

McElwain on Thursday admitted the transition has been a challenge.

"I think, as these guys can attest, our focus since I left there has been for this ballgame.  And what I try to do is late at night make the calls and catch up."

McElwain said Saban has been very helpful.

"Coach Saban has been unbelievable, a help, because he went through kind of the same thing when he took the Michigan State job when he was with the Browns, so leaning on that experience.  And he's been really good about helping with some of the office staff and that kind of thing. "

The players said they will miss him, too... at least parts of him.

"Man, he's fiery," wide receiver Marquis Maze said. "Fiery guy.  I love him.  I think we all love him.  Great coach.  Going to be a great coach at Colorado State.  And I wouldn't want to go in this game with him -- I mean without him.  My bad.  And I love him.  And I feel like he loves us.  And he tells us what we're doing wrong.  He will get on us no matter from Trent, myself, Barrett, anybody on offense.  He really get on them, even the scout team guys he get on them.  So he's always hollering."

Offensive lineman Barrett Jones said McElwain is best described as a teacher.

"He's a great teacher of the game," Jones said. "I think you can tell he really has a passion for that.  That's what he really loves to do is teach kids like us the game.  And he's extremely gifted at that, and just the way he breaks down offenses and helps us understand it."

McElwain is tasked this week with figuring out how to score more than field goals against the undefeated Tigers. Alabama lost 9-6 to LSU during the regular season. McElwain knows it won't be easy.

"They are a very, very good defense, and there's no doubt about it, and this will be a great challenge for us," McElwain said.

McElwain said his receivers will have their hands full with the LSU corners and secondary.

"I really believe we have a great receiving corps, guys that compete hard, guys that want to go out and win, and yet they'll have their hands full because that back end is solid.  Even when they bring guys in, you know, in their different packages, they're all really good cover guys."

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