For McElwain’s Part, Timing Was Right For Him To Leave

(Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports)

(Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports)

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

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie is a contributor for Lightning Rod Sports. He covered high school sports in Bergen County out in North Jersey, and has written op-ed columns on sports such as Bleacher Report and NY Sports Digest.

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2 Responses to For McElwain’s Part, Timing Was Right For Him To Leave

  1. Couple things here Leslie, just for credits, I’ve been to every home game, two away games, every single home presser and have interviewed Jim McElwain a number of times, both on my radio show and in person as background.

    First of all, nobody is blaming Coach for taking the job. I would have taken the job as well, it’s a $2 million a year raise. One would have to be stupid not to get that bling. Granted, back in March he looked at me in the eye and told me he would be staying at least two years unless his dream job came along and any clown that thinks FU is a dream job is fooling himself. Still I don’t blame him for getting his income.

    Now for some facts; CSU will be getting $5 million for the buyout. $2 million of the agreement is to come from McElwain personally. Everybody knows that is a ‘wink wink’ agreement.

    The CSU stadium is a done deal. Both committees have approved the on campus stadium, one of which I was on. Tony Frank goes to the board on Friday for public input and to put the question to vote. Frank will recommend that CSU build a stadium costing between $195 million and $220 million on the south side of campus. The facility would be used for football and “other uses that are part and parcel of campus life,” as Frank wrote in an email addressed to the board. A simple formality that the board will pass.

    I agree with you that no perennial coach will stay at CSU more than a couple years. Simple fact is that unless the school is in a power 5, they have absolutely no chance at being ranked in the top 15 in the playoff poll. That simple. Bullshit yes, but a fact. So yes you’re right on that. CSU’s simple goal is be in the Big 12 and be a contender. The stadium is proof of that. If that happens then yeah, any coach would love to come here and lead that team. Also, CSU got 50-60 calls and inquiries about the head coaching job in the last two days. Six of those men are very very high quality people with perfect resumes. Any of which would take this time even higher than this years team.

    BTW, a great article would be how fouled up the polls are. Total joke, no chance to actually see who the best football team in college is.

    Always love reading your stuff! Keep it up my friend!

  2. Great stuff, Shayne. I will talk about the college football rankings for Saturday’s column. Thanks for reading.

    CSU needs to hire an AD and get that stadium done one way or another. There has to be serious leadership that has been missing since Jack Graham left.

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