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Jim McElwain wants players to take pride in playing football

Jim McElwain speaks with alumni and media during the alumni event on June 5 at Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids

For Jim McElwain, the relationship between head coach and alumni is the one of the most important for a football program. 

The first-year head coach of the Central Michigan football team had his first opportunity to meet with CMU alumni on June 5 at Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. 

"The thing you get from Chips is that they have a true passion for our place," McElwain said. "It's my responsibility to try and give a little bit back. So, our relationship with the alumni is something I'm all about."

Another important aspect as the head coach is to have people invested in the program. McElwain said the alumni in attendance are the ones most invested in his team. 

"They care about the Chippewas," McElwain said. "It means something to them and to be with them gets me fired up." 

McElwain has been coaching for 34 years, including one year as the Oakland Raiders' quarterback coach in 2006. He was the offensive coordinator for Alabama and Nick Saban for three years (2008-11). He also served as the head coach of Colorado State (2012-14) and Florida (2015-17).

Those Ram and Gator teams had a common theme: they were prideful. 

As for his new team, the feeling of pride is what McElwain wants them to have. 

"I want guys to be proud to be Chippewas," he said. "I want them to be proud to be good teammates. I want them to be successful because of their experience at Central Michigan. More than that, I want them to go out and play for each other, play for a bigger cause than themselves. That's the CMU alumni and fans."

McElwain has shared his excitement for the Chippewa Champions Center because it is one of the ways the university is investing in its football team, which is imperative for success. Not only does he want the university to invest in the football team, but also in the players themselves.

"The administration has done an outstanding job allowing us to do a few things that can help us feed our guys," McElwain said. "That was something that wasn't there before, because we're asking them to work their tails off to get ready for next season. That's been one of my big pushes, ultimately investing in our own players."