The big school always get their way and after some negotiating, Florida managed to come to an agreement with Colorado State about a buyout so they can hire Jim McElwain to be their next head coach and bring the SEC East program back to the heights they were used to until not too long ago.
McElwain was always pushing for an exit but his $7.5 million buyout kept the deal from being completed. Eventually, he came to an agreement with the school president that made everyone happy: Florida pay a buyout of $3 million and will host Colorado State between 2017 and 2020 for one game for which they will receive $2 million, while McElwain himself will pay the school $2 million over time. McElwain signed a six-year deal with Florida worth $3.5 million a season, while the Gators also have to pay Muschamp $6 million after firing him.
The $5 million marks the biggest school-to-school buyout in college football history, which was previously held by Texas, paying $4.375 million to Louisville in order to terminate Charlie Strong’s contract with the Cardinals. That didn’t work out all too well for the Longhorns this season, but Florida don’t believe their problems are as bad and deep as they are in Austin heading into this season, although one look at their offensive numbers under Muschamp show that might not be the case.
McElwain was an offensive coordinator with Alabama under Nick Saban which includes winning one national championship before heading to Colorado State, coaching the Rams for three seasons. He has turned the program into an extremely successful ones compared to the period before 2012, finishing 10-2 in 2014 and leading his team to 16 wins out of his final 20 games with them. Colorado State were 9-27 in the three season prior to his arrival.
If the Florida coaching trend continues, McElwain should be a big hit. Steve Spurrier did extremely well, including a national championship, from 1990 to 2001, winning 81.7% of his games. His replacement, Ron Zook, didn’t do as well in the next three years, posting a 62.2% success rate. Urban Meyer took his Utah glory to Gainsville and won two national championships, winning 81.3% of his games. Will Muschamp posted a 57.1% winning record during his four seasons with the team. Now it’s McElwain’s turn to set the bar high again.
Florida have had a consistent defense for years, often one of the best in the nation. Offense has been a problem, with Muschamp’s offense this season ranking only 90th in the nation despite his changes to the style and the coordinating position. McElwain did very well with Alabama (with an incredible amount of recruited talent as well, don’t forget, including a massive offensive line), but also turned Colorado State into an efficient scoring machine: 13th in total offense with 497.8 yards per game with a quarterback (Garrett Grayson) that threw 32 touchdowns to only six interceptions, the second most efficient in the nation.
With Colorado State, patience wasn’t a problem, and the standards of success were lower. To be frank, it couldn’t have gotten much better than winning in double figures and turning the program into a successful one again. With Florida, he might get one season to rebuild and do badly before the pressure comes. McElwain knows the SEC and what’s it about. He won’t get too much time to settle in before results are demanded of him.