It was cute that CSU President Tony Frank was not going to budge on the $7.5 million buyout for Colorado State football coach Jim McElwain to leave Colorado State for the University of Florida.
He couldn’t be delusional to think that was going to deter Florida from getting their guy. Once they want their guy, they will find a way to get him. The university prints money to pay buyouts like this. If worse comes to worst, McElwain could use his salary to pay the buyout.
The bottom line is McElwain made up his mind to leave when Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley came to his home to offer him a job to coach the Gators. They were talking contract just few days ago.
Sooner or later, McElwain and Florida would take care of the buyout. That came today when the University of Florida paid $5 million to Colorado State and the CSU head coach paid $2 million to the university to leave. Now, he is the new Gators football coach.
The university did not receive the full $7.5 million, but $7 million was enough for McElwain to go away. CSU was not going to ask for anything more. They know it was in the best interest of the university that McElwain moved on. There is no point for Colorado State to have a coach who wanted to be elsewhere. It would have been awkward.
McElwain wants to parlay his success from CSU right now. No one can blame him. This is the best it’s going to get for him. There’s no guarantee he can have success at the university. He may not get an offer like he received from Florida next year from other powerhouse programs, especially if CSU takes a step backward recordwise.
He took advantage of this opportunity. It was the right thing for him to do. For CSU fans to be upset with him, they would do the same thing he did when it came to advancing their career. It’s business at the end of the day. He was doing what was best for his career. No one should fault him.
Face it. McElwain was never going to stay at Colorado State for life. It was never happening as long as the university is in a nondescript conference like the Mountain West Conference.
CSU wants to play in the Big 12 conference, but it’s going to be hard for them to be selected unless they get a new stadium. The chances of getting a new stadium are not great. McElwain knew both factors, and that’s why he wasn’t going to stick around.
McElwain also wants to coach for a national championship one day, which is why he accepted the job at Florida. He knows he is good enough to win one. Florida gives him that opportunity. Colorado State was never going to play for one as long as they stayed in the Mountain West Conference.
CSU was not even ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings this year. They were not ranked because the committee only favors programs that play in a Power 5 conference. Yes, Boise State was ranked, but that’s because they have had a good track record in college football such as beating a powerhouse team in Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Also, it took until last week for them to get ranked this season.
Good luck to CSU finding a coach that is going to stay there for life. It isn’t happening ever.
Colorado State has to deal with the fact that this university will be a stepping stone for prospective coaches to advance in their career. That means there will not be another Sonny Lubick that stays there for life, and Lubick tried to leave Colorado State for USC once.
Sure, CSU can hire Sonny’s son in Matt, who is an assistant coach at Oregon. Odds are he won’t be a lifer there like his dad. He will probably move on to another powerhouse school one day if he ever gets hired by them.
It’s the way of life in the Mountain West Conference. It isn’t only a Colorado State issue. It’s an issue for teams that play in a nondescript conference.
Colorado State has to hire a coach that knows how to win, not look for a lifer. That means hiring former Michigan coach Brady Hoke or Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Those guys can sustain success, not start all over.
It will be interesting who is going to want to coach Colorado State.
As for McElwain, pressure will be on him. He wanted the challenge, and he gets it now in bringing the Gators back to glory.
He better understand he has to deal with national championships or bust. Being in the SEC championship game and the national championship game won’t cut it.
For his sake, let’s hope he knows what he is getting himself into.
Contact or Follow Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter