Jim McElwain, the third-year coach for Colorado State, appears on the verge of leaving lovely Fort Collins for Gainesville, Florida, to be the next Gators head coach, multiple outlets are reporting.
Florida AD Jeremy Foley is flying to Colorado State right now, perhaps to lock down the deal, which began to come together over the weekend, according to Yahoo’s Pat Forde. The final hurdle is probably McElwain’s massive $7.5 million buyout. The likely scenario is that Florida will play a home-and-home series with the Rams in hopes of reducing that figure.
McElwain is an attractive coach for obvious reasons: He quickly turned around a moribund CSU program, and this year the Rams are 10-2. (Never could beat Boise, though: 0-3.) He weathered an early, ugly storm with aplomb. Everyone will attempt to make a parallel between this hire and when Foley plucked Urban Meyer out of Utah in 2004.
Those who want to dig beyond the surface will find this: Meyer was a head coach at Bowling Green for two years, and then at Utah he found immediate success, beating Cal and Oregon in year one. Year two was even better: With future NFL QB Alex Smith at the helm, Utah went unbeaten, dispatching Texas A&M, North Carolina, and then Pittsburgh in a bowl game to finish 12-0.
Smith went No. 1 in the 2005 draft. Meyer went to Florida, where he won two titles in six years.
McElwain, in three years at Colorado State, he didn’t beat a ranked team, and its best win was against Boston College. He has a QB that will get drafted (Garrett Grayson, possibly mid-late rounds), and a couple other NFL prospects (OT Ty Sambrailo, CB Bernard Blake and TE Kivon Cartwright).
What Florida will love about McElwain is that he’s known as an offensive guy (former QB) who excelled as offensive coordinator at Fresno State and … Alabama.