Turns out this $7.5 million Jim McElwain buyout was even trickier to sort out than we thought. And by yesterday morning, we thought it was pretty damn tricky.
The ending agreement was $7 million total for the buyout, $3 million of which Florida will pay, $2 million of which McElwain will pay, and the remaining $2 million of which will be repaid in another way. As part of the agreement with Colorado State, Florida will pay CSU $2 million to come to the Swamp (to presumably take a thumping) sometime between 2017 and 2020. Despite all the talk of a second game, i.e. a home and home series, Florida will not make a return trip to Colorado State (or to Denver, which is about an hour south of the Rams’ Fort Collins campus).
The Gators already have Michigan and FSU lined up for 2017, so the game doesn’t look too likely to happen then because Florida will have the strength of an SEC schedule plus two traditional powerhouses to put on a playoff resume should they be good enough to be in that discussion. Florida has said that they will move on without scheduling FCS teams, but surely Florida could pick a sacrificial lamb that’s less dangerous to bite back than Colorado State. The Rams are not a joke (though they’re admittedly not exactly a powerhouse either). The former is why Florida will likely not want to play them in 2017, and the latter is why they will probably open one of the ensuing three seasons with them.
This was the only reason that the official pen-to-paper action took as long to happen as it did. McElwain and Jeremy Foley mutually agreed late Tuesday night.
Jim McElwain will be the next #Gators head coach. He hasn't signed a contract as of 12:40am, but will. Foley is not considering anyone else.
— InAllKindsOfWeather.com (@AllKindsWeather) December 3, 2014
Now, as to why this buyout took so long to settle? That’s not totally clear. Some say it a tactic by Florida to make a big deal about the stall and put pressure on CSU to lower the buyout, and that certainly has some merit. CSU’s president, Tony Frank, agreed to reduce or eliminate the buyout if a “dream job” came along, and by Foley making a big show about the huge buyout publicly, along with highlighting Frank’s refusal to lower it, makes CSU look bad. Even the most delusional of FSU fans could tell you that Florida fits any definition of the term “dream job”, so failing to lower the buyout paints Frank- not totally incorrectly, I may add- as a blatant liar.
In addition to that, no hotshot young coach is going to want to coach at a place where you have to pay $7.5 million dollars to take a better job. If it were a place like Florida, Texas, Alabama or Michigan, with all the prestige, it’s one thing, but who in their right mind would sign a contract to coach a stepping stone school (at best) where the only way out is to pay a shitload of money?
Granted, that’s all speculation, but it makes sense. Foley was never going to let McElwain slip out of his grip, particularly with Nebraska and Michigan now searching for head coaches as well. He doesn’t like to pay money, like everybody, so the notion that turned up the heat on CSU to save Florida $500,000 dollars is not something I’d be surprised to learn.
In other news, McElwain will make 3.5 million a year for six years at Florida, which comes to $21 million total. If you want perspective, Will Muschamp’s starting salary at Florida was $2.75 million a year. Make no mistake, it’s a solid amount for McElwain to start out with. Jeremy Foley was not shy about how much he wanted him.