The Florida Gators football coaching search is over, and all it took was dodging the bullet of having to pay one of the most expensive buyouts in college history. After negotiating with Colorado State, the new Florida Gators football coach is Jim McElwain.
Florida dismissed head football coach Will Muschamp on Nov. 16, before the season was over. Though Muschamp finished the season, his replacement was largely expected to be named before the college football bowl season got underway.
Though not a household name, McElwain joins the Florida Gators football program with a nice resume. And a hefty price tag.
Florida had flown to Fort Collins, Colorado, to interview McElwain and presumably come back with a signed contract to be the new Florida Gators football coach. However, Colorado State and Florida could not agree on the terms of McElwain’s buyout, which was reportedly $7.5 million.
Eventually the schools agreed to a much lower buyout whereby the University Athletic Association will pay Colorado State University $3 million over six years. The Gators also agreed to play CSU in a game in Gainesville between 2017 to 2020, with a $2 million guarantee, effectively taking Florida’s portion of the buyout to $5 million total spread over the course of up to six years.
However, McElwain himself also agreed to pay Colorado State $2 million “over time.” That concession takes the total buyout to $7 million, though UF won’t be paying the entire thing.
McElwain’s actual salary will average $3.5 million per year.
The new Florida Gators football coach will be officially introduced Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The Florida football program is in a bit of a decline, which is likely a key reason for McElwain’s hiring. Before the new Florida Gators football coach joined Colorado State, the Rams had managed just a 3-9 record for three straight years. After McElwain joined CSU, they dramatically ramped-up their record, finishing 22-16 in McElwain’s three seasons there.
The Rams finished the 2014 football season with 10 wins for the first time since 2002. That 10-win record included wins over the rival Colorado Buffaloes and Boston College.