The Florida Gators have decided that Colorado State Rams head coach Jim McElwain, the 2014 Mountain West Coach of the Year, is its best option to replace Will Muschamp, according to ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy, who reports that athletic director Jeremy Foley will meet with McElwain on Tuesday afternoon.
OnlyGators.com first reported Tuesday earlier afternoon that the Gators were on a private jet en route to Fort Collins, Colorado. It was later confirmed by the Orlando Sentinel‘s Edgar Thompson that Foley is indeed on the plane to meet McElwain.
McElwain, who spent three years under Nick Saban at Alabama (2008-11) and directed the Crimson Tide’s offense to back-to-back national titles, has quickly built up a Rams program that was at the bottom of the Mountain West when he took over.
After posting a 4-8 record in his first season at the helm of Colorado State, McElwain pushed the Rams to an 8-6 record in 2013 and a 10-2 regular-season record in 2014.
McElwain has a $7.5 million buyout in his deal with Colorado State, though as OnlyGators.com first reported on Nov. 17 and reiterated on Nov. 30, the entire buyout is negotiable and can either be reduced or eliminated as the school sees fit.
He is considered one of the best offensive minds in college football with Colorado State currently ranked 24th nationally in scoring offense (35.9 points per game), 13th in total offense (497.8 yards per game) and seventh in passing offense (326.3 yards per game). The Rams are also ranked 34th in scoring defense (23.4 points per game).
A native of Montana with numerous ties out west, McElwain played quarterback for Eastern Washington and spent the first eight years of his coaching career on EWU’s staff as a quarterback/wide receiver coach. He then served as offensive coordinator at Montana State (1995-99), wide receivers coach at Louisville (2000-02) and assistant head coach at Michigan State (2003-05). In 2006, McElwain spent a year as quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders, but he returned to college the following season as offensive coordinator at Fresno State.
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