Florida Gators progressing towards potential indoor practice facility for football

While the Florida Gators were in the midst of hiring a new head football coach, the University of Florida continued to progress in its plans to potentially build an indoor practice facility for the program with a completion date as early as July 2015.

In October, a notice of bid/request for a proposal requiring “design/build services” for “Project UAA-35, Indoor Practice Facility (Main Campus)” was submitted to the Florida Department of State, with the University Athletic Association noting that it was “considering the possibilities of providing an indoor practice field for the football program on its current practice site” as well as “a new storage building … to provide space for a satellite athletic training space, hydration station, toilet, and field maintenance equipment.”

A UAA spokesman told The Gainesville Sun in October that there were no plans on the horizon to build an indoor practice facility, and that may have been the case at the time, but the early stages of planning have continued.

The UAA hired RDG Planning & Design to mock up plans for a potential indoor practice facility, which the company did by creating three options that would require adjustments to the current site of Florida football’s practice fields.

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Florida Gators introduce coach Jim McElwain: press conference, media appearances

Updated at 2:30 p.m.

The Florida Gators on Saturday will introduce new head coach Jim McElwain during a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. in Gainesville, Florida. McElwain’s presser will be bookended by other media opportunities, which will be covered here on OnlyGators.com.

Below are opening statements from president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley as well as McElwain’s live hits on ESPN‘s SportsCenter and SEC Network‘s SEC Nation program.

INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE

President Bernie Machen: “We open the next chapter in Gator football. This is an important event for the whole university because intercollegiate athletics at the University of Florida is central to and integral to the activities of our university. It has great support from our students and from our faculty and staff as well as our alumni. So, this is a big deal, and we look at it as an opportunity to reaffirm the values of the whole university. We found a coach who we believe is exactly the right person to lead us into the next era of Gator football.”

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Odds and ends on Florida’s Jim McElwain hire

The process of transforming Colorado State’s Jim McElwain from a top candidate to the next head football coach of the Florida Gators was long and involved, likely longer and more involved than originally expected with plenty of twists and turns occurring throughout. OnlyGators.com is here to break a lot of it down.

THE BUYOUT

Colorado State will tell you, which it did in what is likely the first-ever press release ever sent about a buyout, that while it ultimately compromised with Florida, the program still received 93.3 percent of the $7.5 million buyout attached to McElwain’s contract. And that will, years from now, be true. It is also true that the $7 million that will come the way of the Rams will eclipse the $4.3 million Texas paid Louisville to snag Charlie Strong.

What Colorado State chooses not to mention in its braggadocios press release – titled “Colorado State University receives largest-ever buyout as Jim McElwain goes to University of Florida” – is that it did indeed compromise, a lot more than the school wanted to initially.

In the end, the Gators actually worked out a pretty sweet deal (for a $7 million buyout), especially considering the original $7.5 million buyout was due as a lump sum 30 days after the contract was ended. Let’s take a look at how Florida and athletic director Jeremy Foley turned a lump-sum $7.5 million buyout into $4 million paid out over six years.

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Florida resolves buyout, announces Colorado State’s Jim McElwain as next coach of the Gators

Updated at 5 p.m.

Jim McElwain has agreed to become the 24th head coach of the Florida Gators.

“It’s an honor to be a part of the one of most powerful brands in college athletics in the Florida Gators,” said McElwain in a statement released by the school hours after his hiring was announced. “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.”

ESPN‘s Chris Low first reported early Thursday that buyout terms had been reached, while the Denver Post‘s Terry Frei later reported that the “negotiated buyout has CSU receiving $5 million cash and $2 million for a single game at Florida in the future.”

The Gators initially announced their hiring of McElwain via Twitter with a press conference scheduled for Saturday.

Florida then announced that the University Athletic Association will pay Colorado State $3 million over a six-year period, while McElwain will pay the school $2 million on his own. Additionally, CSU will play a game at UF between 2017-20 for $2 million.

The Gators and Rams were forced to mutually agree to the buyout in order to move the process along and allow McElwain to leave Colorado State for Florida. McElwain signed a six-year deal with the Gators that averages $3.5 million per season.

“Coach McElwain was someone we targeted from the beginning of the search. The more we worked through the process and did our due diligence, coupled with our meeting and conversations with him and those around him, it was obvious he is the right person to lead the Florida Gator football program,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement.

“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.”

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The Silver Lining: Time for Florida, CSU to end the posturing and make a deal for Jim McElwain

After receiving an email, I felt it was necessary to clarify the below column in two ways. First, I am not insinuating that a verbal agreement negates the terms of a signed contract. Rather, I am stating that it makes good business sense to negotiate in good faith regardless of the signed contract. Secondly, though fewer words were written about one of the two sides in this fiasco, it is important to understand that I hold each side at fault for the way things transpired on Wednesday.

Jim McElwain and the $7.5 million buyout

Wednesday was a day of posturing in Florida’s pursuit of Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain. And most of it, or at least a good portion, was because of how Tuesday’s events unfolded for both parties.

According to reports by The Gainesville Sun and ESPN, Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley only decided to fly to Fort Collins, Colorado, on Tuesday after CSU officials told UF that McElwain’s buyout was indeed negotiable.

Foley, who is already spending $6.3 million to buy out Will Muschamp and may have to pay up to $8 million total to pay off assistants that McElwain decides not to retain (if he’s hired), saw McElwain’s $7.5 million buyout as a roadblock but one that he was willing to navigate through in order to secure his target.

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Florida en route to Colorado State, Jim McElwain is Gators’ top choice to replace Will Muschamp

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.

OnlyGators.com Coaching Search Ticker

Photo Credit: David Zalubowski/Associated Press

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, November 20: Gators coaching search candidates, mailbag

Florida Gators coaching search

Ah, a coaching search. So much fun. Such little stress. Not taxing whatsoever on my time, energy or sleep patterns, which are already way too out-of-whack. The simple fact is that this will likely be a long and tedious search and no one will experience that as much first-hand as athletic director Jeremy Foley, who not only has to go through the entire process but is also tasked with making the all-important decision.

As this process unfolds, you are going to see such a wide variety of lists and reports posted by different media outlets that your head may spin. My hope with the candidate list that OnlyGators.com posted on Sunday was that you would understand it to be a pros-and-cons breakdown of some of the most talked-about names for the job that also provided you with a comprehensive list of names that could fit what the Gators are looking for in their next coach.

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Snell’s Slant: Upset yet excited for Florida’s future

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

So after four long years, the Will Muschamp experiment has reached a conclusion. Most of us saw this coming, some thought/hoped it would be sooner, others believed it could be avoided but felt deep down that it would eventually happen. No matter, at the end of the 2014 season, Muschamp will no longer be the head coach of the Florida Gators.

But this is not about beating Muschamp while he is down; that is unnecessary as he came to the Gators, his hometown team, to do his best. At the end of the day, Muschamp wanted to win and create excitement for Gator Nation; he was just never able to put all the pieces together, especially on the offensive side of the ball. What is truly unfortunate about this situation is that Muschamp, as a man, is well-respected and well-liked by most that encounter him. Do not get it twisted: the Florida players love him, and his assistant coaches admired his work ethic even if they did not always agree with his decisions. But those things can only matter so much when you are making $3 million per season and not winning games, especially important ones – at home – against SEC opponents.

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