Jon Embree has eight months to find out everything he can about Jim McElwain.

Colorado's second-year football coach admitted Tuesday he knows about as much as the average fan about the first-year Colorado State head coach who is fresh off winning his second national title as offensive coordinator at Alabama on Monday.

CU and CSU will meet in the first game of the 2012 season at Sports Authority Field in Denver on Sept. 1.

In addition to the two national titles, McElwain's offenses produced the first Heisman Trophy winner in Alabama history and saw former quarterback Greg McElroy set a handful of school passing records.

McElwain was in Fort Collins first thing Tuesday morning to begin his job rebuilding the Rams in earnest.

Colorado State head football coach Jim McElwain sits at his desk as he answers questions during a meeting with area media Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012 on-campus
Colorado State head football coach Jim McElwain sits at his desk as he answers questions during a meeting with area media Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012 on-campus at the McGraw Athletic Center. McElwain was in Fort Collins less than 12 hours after winning the national championship with Alabama. Photo by Steve Stoner, Loveland Reporter-Herald. ( Steve Stoner )

"I don't know anything about him personally," Embree said. "I just know he was with Alabama and has had a lot of success there. I just know he was a guy who was in high demand and had a couple opportunities and he chose CSU."

The college football season ended Monday night with the Crimson Tide's decisive victory over LSU, but both Embree and McElwain will be extremely busy the next three weeks finalizing their recruiting classes.

Once recruiting is done, they will have plenty of time to figure out more about each other and prepare for their first meeting as leaders of this state's rival programs.

Embree, meanwhile, is interested to see who is on the staff in Fort Collins because it will be a starting point in developing his first game plan next year.


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So far, McElwain has hired four members of his staff.

Tom Ehlers was named director of football operations and Tim Duffie is recruiting coordinator. Tim Skipper and Dave Baldwin also joined the staff last week as assistant coaches.

The CSU staff is one of six new coaching staffs the Buffs will face in 2012, though they won't play against several of those programs until later in the year when there will be plenty of fresh film to break down.

The list includes new staffs at three Pac-12 South Division schools -- Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA -- and Washington State in the North.

Fresno State also has a new staff, and the Buffs are scheduled to travel there for a Sept. 15 game.

"With all of them, it's what is their mindset?" Embree said. "What kind of coach are they? Are they going to be a guy who is aggressive on fourth down? Are they a guy who likes to do a lot of things in special teams?

"You get a feel for some guys where you can say, 'OK, I know what his mindset is. This is the kind of game it's going to be or here is what he's going to want to do in this situation.'"

Embree is big on trying to get inside the head of his counterparts through film study and other means. Doing so enables him, and any other coach who takes the same approach, to put their players in better positions to make plays on game days.

Embree said he felt like he had a good feel for how former interim Arizona coach Tim Kish would approach certain situations by talking to CU assistants Greg Brown and Mike Tuiasosopo.

He predicted Kish would fake a punt during their November meeting in Boulder.

When the opportunity came up for Kish to make such a call, Embree actually took a timeout to give Kish a second chance to make the call. Embree had the Buffs ready and they stopped it.

Embree said he doesn't believe McElwain's offense in Fort Collins will resemble too closely what Alabama has run.

He said Alabama coach Nick Saban is more conservative and he expects McElwain will be more aggressive as he was during his stint as offensive coordinator at Fresno State prior to going to Alabama.

"I know Nick is going to make you play to his defense, and rightfully so," Embree said. "My guess is Jim is a lot more wide open than what they've done at Alabama. I anticipate they will probably be throwing it around, but probably still have a little bit of that running game that they have at Alabama."