Gators meet with Jim McElwain

ByBrett McMurphy ESPN logo
Thursday, December 4, 2014

After two days of negotiations with Colorado State's Jim McElwain, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley took a charter plane Wednesday back to Gainesville without the Gators' top coaching candidate, sources told ESPN.

Foley and at least four other UF administrators -- Lynda Tealer, Steve McClain, Chip Howard and Mike Hill -- flew from Gainesville to Fort Collins, Colorado, on Tuesday afternoon. They met with McElwain and his wife on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Upon arriving in Gainesville on Wednesday night, Foley told reporters that talks went well with McElwain, but there was no new information from an earlier comment.

A source told ESPN that a sticking point in the negotiations could be McElwain's $7.5 million buyout to leave Colorado State.

"I'm just trying to do a job," Foley told the Coloradoan when asked if he would offer McElwain the Florida job.

Nebraska also has shown serious interest in McElwain, and there are indications that Michigan would pursue him, sources said.

McElwain is 22-16 in three seasons at Colorado State, including 10-2 this year. The Rams were one of two Group of 5 teams with victories this season over two Power 5 conference teams, defeating Colorado and Boston College.

Named the Mountain West Conference's coach of the year Tuesday, McElwain has turned the Rams into an offensive powerhouse. Colorado State averages 498 yards per game (13th best in the nation) while boasting the nation's second-most efficient quarterback in Garrett Grayson and the top receiver by yards per game (149.1) and touchdowns (17) in Rashard Higgins.

Before taking over Colorado State, McElwain, a Montana native, was Alabama's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2008 to 2011.

The Gators are looking for a replacement for Will Muschamp, who was fired last month. The Gators are 6-5 this season, and a program that grew accustomed to putting points on the board ranked 90th this season in total offense, which is Florida's best mark during Muschamp's tenure.

Responding Wednesday to speculation on his potential candidacy, Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly -- who coached Oregon prior to leaving for the NFL -- said he has not heard from Florida.

"I laugh," Kelly said. "I think it's silly. It's a rumor. It's not the truth. I think things that are false are silly."

Kelly left Oregon in January 2013 and, after his departure, was placed under a show-cause order for 18 months after the Ducks were sanctioned by the NCAA for an affiliation with a scouting service.

That order, which would require a university to appear before the infractions committee before it could hire Kelly, expires this month.

"Our whole mantra around here is to be where your feet are," Kelly said. "My feet are right here. I can't control what other people think or other people write. I've never been concerned with it, never will be concerned with it.

"... I've been very happy everywhere I've been, and I'm happy being here now. People are going to have rumors about where you're going to go and all those other things, but no one's ever asked me."'s Chris Low and Phil Sheridan contributed to this report.

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