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Florida release on Jim McElwain details "total compensation package," not salary

Florida's getting a deal in Jim McElwain.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Florida's official article-length announcement of Jim McElwain's hiring, penned by Scott Carter, has gone live. Here's Jeremy Foley's statement from the announcement:

"He has a proven track record on the offensive side of the ball, has coached in the SEC, won two national championships and has had success as a head coach. He has recruited the South and the state of Florida and has spent time coaching at the highest level in the NFL.

"He has an engaging personality and is someone who can connect with a variety of audiences and he operates with a high level of integrity. I welcome him and his family to The Gator Nation and I’m looking forward to working alongside him and his staff as they build a championship program both on and off the field."

But here's the really interesting bit:

Coach McElwain's total compensation package will average $3.5 million annually over six years.

That phrase, "total compensation package," is a dodge. It's not McElwain's salary, because his salary, like those of most college football coaches, will be significantly lower than his "total compensation package," which is likely to include bonuses.

For example: Will Muschamp's base salary was close to $2.7 million, but his total compensation package, including bonuses and other perks, was closer to $3.2 million. Half a million dollars in bonus money, not salary, is a big deal, because performance bonuses might not get paid out; obviously, Muschamp didn't get all of his.

If McElwain has a similar bonus package — we'll know when Florida eventually releases or is made to release his contract — then the Gators might be paying in the neighborhood of $3 million in base salary for McElwain, a steal of a deal if he proves to be any good as the Gators' head man.

The other interesting aspect of the deal is its length: Six years is a long time to lock into any one coach, especially at Florida, where the last three coaches have lasted three, seven, and four years. If McElwain has a disastrous Florida tenure, the Gators could be stuck with him — or they could find themselves once again forced to make creative moves to work around a buyout and hire a new coach.