After Jim McElwain was hired by Colorado State University to become their new head football coach at the end of last season the general consensus around Northern Colorado was that CSU would instantly become a contender in the Mountain West Conference. College Football writers don’t see that happening this year. The Rams were ranked 8th out of 10 teams in the conference in the preseason media poll.

Sure coach McElwain has an impressive resume and has made some impressive moves since arriving in Fort Collins, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Rams have finished the last three seasons with a 3-9 record. Quite frankly, the Rams have fallen behind their peers in the Mountain West Conference, and the climb back up won’t be easy. “We’ve got a ways to go. It’s not going to be built overnight,’’ McElwain said Tuesday, not the least bit surprised that his first Colorado State University team was picked to finish so poorly.

CSU, winner of two conference titles in the Mountain West’s first four seasons, hasn’t finished in the top half of the league standings since going 4-3 in league play and 7-6 overall in 2003. adding better schools and therefore better competition like Boise State last year hasn’t helped the Rams’ cause, but now is the time for CSU to step up.

On a brighter note, four CSU players – running back Chris Nwoke, center Weston Richburg, linebacker Shaquil Barrett and punter Pete Kontodiakos – were named to the preseason all-conference team.

Boise State received 27 first-place votes from the panel of 30 media members making them the overwelming favorite to win the Mountain West this season. Nevada and Fresno State, two of the three teams that joined the MW this season from the Western Athletic Conference, were picked to finish second and third, respectively, with Fresno State picking up a pair of first-place votes. Wyoming was picked fourth and San Diego State fifth. San Diego State, which is leaving the MW for the Big East Conference with Boise State next fall, picked up the other first-place vote. Air Force was sixth, Hawaii seventh, CSU eighth, UNLV ninth and New Mexico 10th.