Publisher Profile

THE INSIDER AUTHORITY ON GATOR SPORTS

Buyout blues: Can Florida
land their new head coach?

Written by Nick de la Torre, December 3, 2014, 9 Comments,
Print Friendly

Even before Will Muschamp was fired, University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley was getting ready for the inevitable. Foley keeps a working list of coaches that would be suitable replacements if need be.

On Tuesday afternoon, Foley made a move on one of those coaches; flying to Fort Collins, Colorado to meet with Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain.

The 52-year old head coach became the apple of Foley’s eye over the past three days as Foley narrowed in his search on one coach to bring the Gators back to prominence in the SEC.

Foley, along with Executive Associate AD for Internal Affairs Chip Howard, Senior Associate AD Steve McClain, Executive Associate AD for External Affairs Mike Hill and Executive Associate AD for Administration Lynda Tealer (who deals with coaching contracts) made the trip from Gainesville to Fort Collins to meet with McElwain and, presumably, offer him the head-coaching job at Florida.

There is a sticking point. When Colorado State snatched McElwain away from Alabama — where he served as offensive coordinator for two national champion teams — they made a huge commitment. CSU gave McElwain an initial five year contract that could be extended all the way out through 2023, a 10 year commitment that could pay a coach who was taking on his first head coaching gig up to $15 million.

In return, they wanted to protect that investment and did so by tacking on a $7.5 million dollar buyout to the contract. Kelly Lyell of the Coloradoan wrote on Tuesday night that the buyout was meant to be a “deterrent to other schools who might want to hire McElwain away.”

From Lyell’s story, where he speaks with former CSU athletic director Jack Graham, advised that the initial contract was not to have any language or loop holes to get out of what Graham called a “breakup fee”.

“Unfortunately in the meeting back in June during which Mac, Tony Frank and I were to sign Mac’s employment agreement, Tony agreed to reduce if not eliminate the breakup fee if a ‘dream job’ were to come along,” Graham told the Coloradoan.

The official language in the contract reads:

“If such termination [McElwain terminating his contract] occurs on or before December 31, 2018, the liquidated Damages shall be the great of: (1) $7,500,000; or (2) An amount equal to McElwain’s total remaining Base Salary for all years and months remaining from the termination date until the Contract Ending Date.”

McElwain’s contract will pay him $7,806,060 over the course of the deal through 2018.

However, the aforementioned agreement was written in to the contract:

“Notwithstanding the above, the parties acknowledge, understand and agree that in the case or event of extenuating circumstances the University’s President shall have the discretion, but not the obligation, to reduce in whole or in part McElwain’s obligation to play Liquidated Damages to the University. McElwain shall have the right to request that the parties engage in good faith discussion of Liquidated Damages amount prior to McElwain providing formal notice to the University of his decision to terminate this agreement without cause and in such event the University agrees to engage in such discussion, although the University has no obligation to reduce in part or in whole McElwain’s obligation to pay Liquidated Damages, with an understanding and acknowledgement that time will be of the essence in coming to a final decision.”

That was a lot to take in but the layman summary is that CSU president Tony Frank did leave a loophole in the contract but the specific language does protect CSU and will force Jeremy Foley to play ball with them in he wants to avoid paying the full price of the buyout or “Liquidated Damages”.

One option could be to offer up a future trip to Gainesville. CSU traveled to Alabama and received a reported $1.5 million for their game with the Crimson Tide. Another option would be making a donation to the school as part of an agreement to drop the Liquidated Damages.

One this is certain.

Jeremy Foley played this entire coaching search close to the vest. He did not leave from Jacksonville on Tuesday and expect to go unnoticed across the country. This was a show of force and a gesture of sincerity to McElwain.

Foley brought the UAA brass with him to Colorado and he won’t be coming back to Gainesville without a head coach.

Nick de la Torre

About Nick de la Torre

A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC

  1. snowprintDecember 3, 2014, 8:24 am

    It sounds like the CSU President has the upper hand. He can demand anything he wants up to the full buyout. He has Foley over the barrel since it would now be an embarrassment for UF if the McElwain hire is not made since Foley has let the world know that McElwain is who he wants. I’d be very surprised if this negotiation with the President of CSU was not done before Foley made the trip, otherwise Foley has no leverage. If the President of CSU wants to play hardball, Foley has no choice but to cave since he’s set himself, and UF, to look bad if the deal falls through because of being cheap. I think I know that Foley is cheap, it’s very hard for me to believe that this buyout was negotiated down before Foley ever left Gainesville. We know Foley has a huge ego, that’s what got us Will Muschamp, so for him to come home without his new choice is inconceivable. Let’s just hope he turns out to be better than Foley’s last choice.

    • snowprintDecember 3, 2014, 8:25 am

      edit “not negotiated down”

  2. malscottDecember 3, 2014, 10:26 am

    Holy crapola! That’s a lot of piasters for a coach! Is he THAT good? Almost seems like Foley isn’t playing the field at all. When you have major renovations done on your home, don’t you interview at least three potential contractors? IS he going to his favorite choice with no contact with the other candidates and willing to maybe overpay? Hope he’s the right dude. If not, maybe him and the new coach can buy that condo from Muschamp and his buddy at Fla State and move in together and lay low. HA! I better go to Mass tonight and pray! Go Gators.

  3. jhansonDecember 3, 2014, 10:29 am

    WOW 7.5 million buyout to CSU, 6.3 to Muschamp and 4.5 million in new salary. That’s 17ish million to a guy who had ONE winning season in the MWC. No conference championship and was 0-3 against Boise. This will not end well.

    • scooterpDecember 3, 2014, 10:56 am

      Well, I guess if you just read one article and don’t really do any homework it can look like a bad deal to a pessimist. But when you dig a little deeper and see that CSU has grown from an a conference doormat with 3 consecutive 3-9 seasons to 10-2 conference champs, who’s offense is one of the best in the country …Then look at his background and see that he was the OC for two Bama national titles, has a history of reinventing offensive schemes to suit existing personnel and a solid recruiter…maybe it looks more appealing.

    • trippo7December 3, 2014, 12:52 pm

      I am pretty sure we won 4-8 games, then 8-6 (winning season), and now 10-2 (winning season). So by my count that would be two winning seasons. Unless you meant only he has one winning conference record in conference games, which I have not checked.

      Just checked – conference records of 5-3 and now 6-2. So wrong either way. I certainly hope Gator fans are a little more supportive this time around, but judging by what I am seeing just from this small sample size it doesn’t look good as far as support. Sad…

    • trippo7December 3, 2014, 12:53 pm

      I am pretty sure we went 4-8 games, then 8-6 (winning season), and now 10-2 (winning season). So by my count that would be two winning seasons. Unless you meant only he has one winning conference record in conference games, which I have not checked.

      Just checked – conference records of 5-3 and now 6-2. So wrong either way. I certainly hope Gator fans are a little more supportive this time around, but judging by what I am seeing just from this small sample size it doesn’t look good as far as support. Sad…

  4. jhansonDecember 3, 2014, 12:20 pm

    Yeah you can spin it however you want. That QB he won with wasn’t his recruit and only halfway decent team the beat was BC. Way overpaying – this reeks of desperation.

    • scooterpDecember 3, 2014, 6:00 pm

      You’re the one doing the spinning…geez. He turned a losing program around to a conf champion in 3 years with a 10-2 record!!! Who cares if he didn’t recruit that QB, he has the offense in the top 10 in the nation….and has a track record through out his career of doing the same thing at other stops. I don’t see any Sabans out there who are candidates…do you? Jesus, I’m getting so sick of our whiny ass fan base.

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Jim_McElwain_Colorado_State_1_USAToday-150x150.jpg Nick de la Torre FeatureFootball ,,
Print Friendly

Even before Will Muschamp was fired, University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley was getting ready for the inevitable. Foley keeps a working list of coaches that would be suitable replacements if need be.

On Tuesday afternoon, Foley made a move on one of those coaches; flying to Fort Collins, Colorado to meet with Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain.

The 52-year old head coach became the apple of Foley’s eye over the past three days as Foley narrowed in his search on one coach to bring the Gators back to prominence in the SEC.

Foley, along with Executive Associate AD for Internal Affairs Chip Howard, Senior Associate AD Steve McClain, Executive Associate AD for External Affairs Mike Hill and Executive Associate AD for Administration Lynda Tealer (who deals with coaching contracts) made the trip from Gainesville to Fort Collins to meet with McElwain and, presumably, offer him the head-coaching job at Florida.

There is a sticking point. When Colorado State snatched McElwain away from Alabama — where he served as offensive coordinator for two national champion teams — they made a huge commitment. CSU gave McElwain an initial five year contract that could be extended all the way out through 2023, a 10 year commitment that could pay a coach who was taking on his first head coaching gig up to $15 million.

In return, they wanted to protect that investment and did so by tacking on a $7.5 million dollar buyout to the contract. Kelly Lyell of the Coloradoan wrote on Tuesday night that the buyout was meant to be a “deterrent to other schools who might want to hire McElwain away.”

From Lyell’s story, where he speaks with former CSU athletic director Jack Graham, advised that the initial contract was not to have any language or loop holes to get out of what Graham called a “breakup fee”.

“Unfortunately in the meeting back in June during which Mac, Tony Frank and I were to sign Mac’s employment agreement, Tony agreed to reduce if not eliminate the breakup fee if a ‘dream job’ were to come along,” Graham told the Coloradoan.

The official language in the contract reads:

“If such termination [McElwain terminating his contract] occurs on or before December 31, 2018, the liquidated Damages shall be the great of: (1) $7,500,000; or (2) An amount equal to McElwain’s total remaining Base Salary for all years and months remaining from the termination date until the Contract Ending Date.”

McElwain’s contract will pay him $7,806,060 over the course of the deal through 2018.

However, the aforementioned agreement was written in to the contract:

“Notwithstanding the above, the parties acknowledge, understand and agree that in the case or event of extenuating circumstances the University’s President shall have the discretion, but not the obligation, to reduce in whole or in part McElwain’s obligation to play Liquidated Damages to the University. McElwain shall have the right to request that the parties engage in good faith discussion of Liquidated Damages amount prior to McElwain providing formal notice to the University of his decision to terminate this agreement without cause and in such event the University agrees to engage in such discussion, although the University has no obligation to reduce in part or in whole McElwain’s obligation to pay Liquidated Damages, with an understanding and acknowledgement that time will be of the essence in coming to a final decision.”

That was a lot to take in but the layman summary is that CSU president Tony Frank did leave a loophole in the contract but the specific language does protect CSU and will force Jeremy Foley to play ball with them in he wants to avoid paying the full price of the buyout or “Liquidated Damages”.

One option could be to offer up a future trip to Gainesville. CSU traveled to Alabama and received a reported $1.5 million for their game with the Crimson Tide. Another option would be making a donation to the school as part of an agreement to drop the Liquidated Damages.

One this is certain.

Jeremy Foley played this entire coaching search close to the vest. He did not leave from Jacksonville on Tuesday and expect to go unnoticed across the country. This was a show of force and a gesture of sincerity to McElwain.

Foley brought the UAA brass with him to Colorado and he won’t be coming back to Gainesville without a head coach.

Read previous post:
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL
Going Bowling: The Florida Gators’ Postseason Possiblities

We take a look at the at the most likely bowl games for Florida, as well as wild cards.

Close