A deal to bring Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain to the same position at Florida has "stalled" over a $7.5 million buyout clause in his contract with CSU, Orlando Sentinel reporter Edgar Thompson writes, and a source close to Colorado State is "unsure" whether McElwain will depart the program for Gainesville.
"CSU has not budged an inch on the buyout," a source told the Orlando Sentinel Wednesday afternoon.
The biggest sticking point was McElwain's buyout. The source said there was no team meeeting with players despite reports to the contrary and CSU officials who once thought McElwain was on his way UF are unsure whether he will in fact take over as the Gators' next coach.
Football Scoop reported that Colorado State players had been called into a team meeting to be informed that McElwain would be leaving for Florida, but Thompson, a columnist for Fort Collins-based newspaper The Coloradoan, and CSU quarterback Garrett Grayson have all debunked that report, with Grayson doing so on Twitter.
People, STOP believing all these STUPID reports that we've been called into a team meeting.— Garrett Grayson (@gbg_18) December 3, 2014
Don't u think by now a player would have tweeted something if it was true? Good lord..— Garrett Grayson (@gbg_18) December 3, 2014
Florida's statements on the situation have also come in the form of tweets:
We’ve had very productive conversations with Coach McElwain and his wife Karen and those continue.— GatorZone Football (@GatorZoneFB) December 3, 2014
The much publicized plane we are flying home on #Gators pic.twitter.com/PnFIIDhTFq— GatorZone Football (@GatorZoneFB) December 3, 2014
And thus has a hiring that was described as a "done deal" by The Coloradoan earlier Wednesday seemingly bogged down over a $7.5 million buyout.
Reading between the lines, I suspect that the stick in the mud here is Colorado State, and for obvious reasons: The university has $7.5 million on the line, more than 20 percent of the $34.5 million in expenses on its most recent athletic budget, according to the most recent USA TODAY accounting of publicly available finances of college athletic programs.
Note, also, that Florida's carefully crafted tweet mentions McElwain and his wife, but not Colorado State, which must clearly be a third party in these proceedings unless Florida concedes to stroking a check to cover McElwain's buyout. Only CSU president Tony Frank has the power to reduce or eliminate McElwain's contracted buyout, and though The Coloradoan reported, via quotes from former CSU athletic director Jack Graham, that Frank agreed in August to a request from McElwain's representation to "waive" the buyout requirement if a "dream job" presented itself, that language appears nowhere in McElwain's contract.
My reading of the situation is that Florida has a decision on its hands, and a coach eager to come to work for the Gators if his future employer can cover his exit fee. And, personally, I think Jeremy Foley should find a way to pony up for McElwain if he is truly set on hiring him.
But it ain't $7.5 million of my money that Foley would be spending.