Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported on Tuesday afternoon that there was a jet en route from Gainesville to Fort Collins, home of Colorado State and Jim McElwain. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley met with McElwain on Tuesday afternoon.
Matt L. Stephens of the Coloradoan reported Foley, associate athletic director Lynda Tealer, one other person and a driver went to McElwain's home and met with the Rams coach. Kelly Lyell, of the same media outlet, said that it appeared the group from Florida would be staying the night in Fort Collins.
On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that Jim McElwain has become the top candidate for the Florida job. The Colorado State coach’s name came up on Sunday when Forde listed him as “a top candidate,” but the differential to “the top candidate” is a significant one.
McElwain is in his third season coaching the Rams and has led them to a 10-2 record, dropping their regular season finale to Air Force on Sunday. The 52-year-old was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year of Tuesday and many of his offensive players received first team honors by the league.
The offensive credentials are impressive. His team at Colorado State boasts Garrett Grayson, the No. 2 quarterback in the country in pass efficiency. The senior has thrown for 3,779 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions for a quarterback rating of 171.3. Receiver Rashard Higgins leads the country in receiving yards per game (149.1) and touchdowns (17).
The hang up with McElwain has been his $7.5 million buyout. There were reports on Monday that the buyout could become smaller based on negotiations, and that is something that Foley will have to speak with Colorado State administration about if McElwain is set to receive an offer to take over the Florida program.
Florida coaches have remained on the road recruiting this week to get in touch with prospects as much as possible before the dead period begins. Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was promoted to the interim head coach spot for Florida’s bowl game. The date and location of the bowl game has not been announced yet.