Life in the Mountain West, or any non-power conference, comes with the fact that a successful coach is either looking to build up its resume to move onto a bigger pay day, or they will get scooped up after a great few years. The latest name to come up is Colorado State's Jim McEleain. He is a former offensive coordinator at Alabama where he was part of winning a pair of national titles from 2008-11, so he has the background in addition to success as the Rams head coach.
McElwains has built up Colorado State quickly and has them in the rankings for the first time since 2003 and if things fall right a chance to appear in a New Year's Day bowl game. It is natural that his success this year has put him on the radar of big time programs.
However, Colorado State smartly put in a hefty buyout of $7.5 million in a recent contract extension prior to the season that pays McElwain $1.5 million per year, and keeps him in place through 2018.
Back on Oct. 20, McElwain joked about the attention he was getting in such a short time frame as the Rams head coach.
"I think it's pretty cool, don't you?" McElwain said to the Denver Post of the recent speculation. "Who would have thought that when we got here. I kind of look at it, I kind of giggle a little bit when you hear it."
Most schools looking for an upgrade in coach might be hesitant to open up the wallet and fork out $7.5 million and then a contract to land McElwain. However, news this Sunday might have changed things for the worse for Colorado State fans.
The Florida Gators are the team out there that can and will pay a lot for its next head coach, and probably will. Sunday morning it was announced that Will Muschamp will not keep his post as Florida's head coach. McElwain's SEC ties while at Alabama could make him a target to lead Florida.
The cost to land McElwain could be too high. In addition of buying out McElwain, Florida still owes Muschamp $6.3 million to buy him out of his contract. That means before Florida offers a contract to McElwain the Gators will have to shell out $13.8 million.
FootballScoop is not sure Florida will reach out to McElwain and part of it is the cost to bring him in:
Mac has done an excellent job proving himself at Colorado State and by all accounts is loving what he is doing there. There is buzz out there about Mac returning to the SEC; but I simply don't see it. Oh, and that contract extension he signed just a few months ago includes a $7.5 million buyout. I simply can't see Florida paying that to bring in Jim McElwain at this time.
McElwain has done a great job with Colorado State but this is his third season as there, and the only place he has ever been a head coach. That could be the hesitation on Florida's part to pay so much to bring in a coach from the Mountain West.
Florida seems like the only school that would be able to have the money to bring in McElwain, because it seems far fetched that a school like Kansas would pony up that kind of cash for its next head coach.
Colorado State fans should be on alert that Florida could bring in McElwain because the Gators want to get back to contending for SEC titles, but at the moment McElwain is not likely to be its top choice. Rams fans should be overly concerned all that worried about losing McEwlain, well at least at this time.