Colorado State coach Jim McElwain has agreed to become the new head coach at Florida, the school announced on Thursday. The news was first reported by ESPN's Chris Low and confirmed by SI.com. McElwain called a team meeting with his Colorado State players.
McElwain, 52, had a 22-16 record in three seasons with the Rams and is well versed in the SEC. He served as the offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008 to '11, a period during which the Crimson Tide won two national titles.
McElwain is a respected recruiter in the state of Florida, where he signed future first-round NFL draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in his final season with the Tide and also recruited former Alabama star quarterback AJ McCarron. He will need to hit the recruiting trail immediately in an attempt to salvage a 2015 class that is ranked last in the SEC, according to Rivals.com.
McElwain is the second consecutive Nick Saban disciple hired by the Gators. He replaces Will Muschamp, who was fired just over two weeks ago following a disappointing 28-21 record in four seasons, including a 6-5 mark this fall.
A Montana native, McElwain has a season of NFL coaching experience as the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach in 2006. He played quarterback at Eastern Washington from 1980-’83, and got his coaching start there as an assistant in ’84.
He was also an assistant at Montana State, Louisville, Michigan State and Fresno State. McElwain had signed a five-year contract with Colorado State in August that paid him $1.5 million annually and included a $7.5 million buyout. His total compensation package at Florida will average $3.5 million annually over six years, per the school's official release.
"The University of Florida Athletic Association and Colorado State have agreed to a payment of $3 million over six years," the release reads. "Florida and Colorado State will also play a game in Gainesville between 2017-20 with a $2 million guarantee. Coach McElwain has agreed to a $2 million payment over time to Colorado State."