Jim McElwain today stepped down as head football coach at Colorado State University to accept an offer to become the head coach at the University of Florida.
Colorado State, as part of the contract with McElwain, received a total buyout of $7 million, including $5 million in cash, the largest such buyout in college football history, eclipsing the $4.3 million the University of Texas paid to the University of Louisville to hire away Coach Charlie Strong earlier this year.
“CSU athletics has benefitted from the three-year association with Jim McElwain,” CSU President Tony Frank said. “We wish him well, and are confident and we can recruit a coach who is committed to a sustained program of excellence at Colorado State over the long term.”
McElwain is the first coach in program history to leave CSU to coach another program.
“We have a tremendous group of student-athletes in this football program who have invested in one another and have worked hard to bring a great deal of pride to Colorado State. They are now focused on preparing to go win a bowl game,” said John Morris, interim director of athletics. “I want to thank Jim McElwain for everything he has done for our football program and Colorado State. We will miss Jim and his family, and we wish him well moving forward.”
In addition to the $5 million in cash, Colorado State will be paid $2 million to play a football game at the University of Florida as part of the agreement. The game has not yet been scheduled. The total payment to Colorado State of $7 million is 93 percent of the buyout value of the contract with McElwain.
“Our national search will begin immediately to find an exceptional leader for the Rams football program,” Morris said. “The head football coach position at Colorado State is a dream job. I am confident we will attract an outstanding group of candidates who want to coach under tremendous university leadership at this world-class institution.”
Dave Baldwin, the Rams’ offensive coordinator, will serve as interim head coach and will lead the team at its upcoming bowl game, Morris said.
Under Baldwin, the Ram offense is one of the most prolific in program history, featuring quarterback Garrett Grayson, Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and one of 17 Heisman Trophy hopefuls, and wide receiver Rashard Higgins, one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award given to the top receiver in the nation.