University of Florida

Florida Gators continue to play waiting game with Jim McElwain

Colorado State head coach JIm McElwain argues call while facing Hawaii in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fort Collins, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.
Colorado State head coach JIm McElwain argues call while facing Hawaii in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fort Collins, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. AP

The wait continues.

A deal to bring Colorado State football coach Jim McElwain to Florida has “stalled” because of negotiations over an expensive buyout, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

After two days of intense discussion, McElwain, 52, appeared destined to replace Will Muschamp, who was fired Nov.16.

But UF athletics director Jeremy Foley returned to Gainesville without McElwain, landing in town around 5:45p.m. Wednesday and telling the Miami Herald, “We had a great conversation. We’re not there yet.”

Added Foley: “We gave you what we gave you. That’s the end of the conversation. … There’s nothing else to report.”

Although McElwain is reportedly eager to become Florida’s coach, the two schools reached an impasse over his $7.5million buyout.

Thus far, the money obstacle has been too big to overcome.

McElwain signed a five-year contract extension with CSU in August, and his expensive buyout has been a sticking point in the final negotiations.

Foley and a contingent of UF’s University Athletics Association staffers — including executive associate athletics director for internal affairs Chip Howard and executive associate athletics director for administration Lynda Tealer, the school’s contract specialist — met with McElwain for hours Tuesday evening, with media camped outside the coach’s home in Fort Collins.

But despite reports suggesting an imminent agreement, Colorado State officials declined to comment and Florida left Fort Collins empty-handed, cryptically tweeting Wednesday afternoon, “We’ve had very productive conversations with Coach McElwain and his wife Karen and those continue.”

Normally, money isn’t an issue at Florida, but the UAA could be on the hook for nearly $14 million — Muschamp’s and McElwain’s buyouts — before the Rams coach ever begins roaming the sidelines for the Gators.

Florida zeroed in on McElwain after Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze signed a four-year contract extension Monday. CSU’s 52-year-old coach fulfills Foley’s search prerequisites, including integrity, character, experience and offensive acumen.

The Nick Saban pedigree is nice, too.

McElwain won two national titles as Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2008 to ’11, coaching a Heisman Trophy Winner (tailback Mark Ingram) and two Heisman finalists (tailback Trent Richardson and quarterback AJ McCarron).

At CSU, he has delivered a decisive turnaround of a moribund program, going 22-16 in three seasons. The Rams were 3-9 for three consecutive years before McElwain took over in 2012.

CSU was 10-2 this year, with wins over in-state rival Colorado and Boston College. McElwain could potentially bring a potent offense to Florida, as CSU averaged 35.9 points a game this season, 25th nationally.

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