Snap your fingers and cue the champagne. Jeremy Foley has found his new man, and a journeyman from Montana has found his new home.
UPDATE: McElwain has issued a statement about his hiring. (He will be formally introduced on Saturday morning.)
“It’s an honor to be a part of one of the most powerful brands in college athletics in the Florida Gators. I’m humbled, yet very excited about the tremendous opportunity that Dr. Machen and Jeremy Foley have afforded me and my family. I can’t tell you how eager I am to get to Gainesville to set a course for who we are going to be and what we will be all about.”
The Florida Gators have officially hired former Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain to replace the overwhelmingly disappointing Will Muschamp as head Gator. McElwain, who runs a pro-style offense, had a record of 22-16 in three years at CSU, but 10-2 in 2014, which well exceeds the Rams’ yearly expectations. He’d done about as much as he possible could for Colorado State, and so it was time was him to go.
Foley- and his fellow higher-ups- left Gainesville on a UAA chartered jet at about 12:16 EST Tuesday, stopped to refuel in western Missouri, and flew the rest of the way to Colorado, where he landed at about 2:10pm Mountain time. He hopped in an SUV and drove to McElwain’s house in Fort Collins, CO, where he spent the rest of the afternoon and evening discussing the job with McElwain. Early this afternoon, Foley and McElwain struck a deal. The reason the negotiations took so long was McElwain’s buyout from CSU was $7.5 million- unless he left for a “dream job”. But while Florida is easily one of the nation’s top ten jobs, Colorado State has decided to pull an about face and demand the full $7.5 million, even though a four year old could tell you that Florida indisputably fits that “dream job” category. But anyway. An agreement has finally been reached, and the Gators have a new coach.
I had McElwain at #17 on my extensive coaching wish list; this means that I’m happy with the hire, but not overjoyed. I would have been thrilled to pull in a Bob Stoops/Hugh Freeze/Gus Malzahn type name, but I remember the last time Foley imported a hot young offensive minded coach from the Mountain West, too, so I’m in no position to whine and moan about it. Put simply, there’s a huge upside with McElwain.
Before going to CSU, McElwain was Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008-2011, so he has some SEC experience. He’s also known as a solid recruiter, but remember, he was recruiting under Nick Saban, where he would never have gotten the bulk of the credit, and then at Colorado State, where the limitations of being in a lower level conference hamper even the best recruiters. Now McElwain comes to Florida, a place that to an extent recruits itself. McElwain recruiting the Sunshine State will be like a little kid going to a toy store for the first time, not knowing where to look first. He has never been able to effectively recruit such a gold mine of talent before, and once he gets his bearings in Florida, look out.
McElwain inherits a team that’s filled with talent on the offensive side of the ball, but that talent has never really translated into success under Muschamp. No worries; that’s what McElwain is here for. He turned the gutsy but modestly talented Greg McElroy into a national championship winning QB at Alabama, and helped develop Crimson Tide running backs Glen Cofee, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. He generally likes to run the ball a lot, (though his QB at Colorado State, Garrett Grayson, was the Mountain West offensive MVP) which means that fixing up the offensive line will probably be his first goal. He built a strong offensive line at CSU, which paved the way for Dee Hart to rush for 1,254 yards and Treyous Jarells to rush for 437 more (in 9 games) this season. Not too shabby.
We’ll be talking about McElwain much more in the coming days, weeks, and even months as he readies himself to take the reins of one of college football’s powerhouse programs. But that’s the skinny of it, at least. I’m busy with finals this week, so pardon me for the lack of content in advance. But that’s what NWB, Joey and Rylan are for