Florida hires Colorado State's Jim McElwain

Florida's coaching search is over, as the school announced on Thursday that it had hired Jim McElwain to replace Will Muschamp in Gainesville, and he'll be officially introduced in a press conference on Saturday.

McElwain will receive an average of $3.5 million annually over six years ($21 million total).

Florida's courtship of the Colorado State coach became public knowledge earlier this week, and even though Florida tweeted that it had "productive" conversations with McElwain, reports on Wednesday claimed that McElwain's $7.5 million buyout at Colorado State had stalled any negotiations.

Florida will pay Colorado State $3 million over six years while McElwain will pay $2 million of the buyout. Colorado State will then be paid $2 million for a future game in Gainesville between 2017 and 2020.

With those negotiations reportedly behind the two parties, the Gators were free to hire a coach who took over a foundering Rams program and turned it into a Mountain West title contender in three short seasons. After finishing 3-9 in four of the previous five years, Colorado State improved to 4-8 in McElwain's debut season in 2012, then 8-6 in 2013, then 10-2 in 2014. McElwain won the 2013 New Mexico Bowl in a thriller over Washington State, then had the Rams in the mix for the Group of 5's automatic bid to a 2014 playoff rotation bowl before an upset loss to Air Force in their season finale.

McElwain first came to prominence as Pat Hill's offensive coordinator for Fresno State in 2007, after which he was hired by Nick Saban as Alabama's play-caller for the 2008-through-2011 seasons -- a period in which the Crimson Tide won two national championships and won 29 consecutive regular season games.

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Jim McElwain went 22-16 in three seasons at Colorado State. (USATSI)

Though McElwain's methodical pro-style offenses don't always produce large total yardage numbers, they've consistently ranked highly in yards gained per-play -- Alabama ranked fifth and 12th in that statistic in 2010 and 2011, and the Rams have improved from 78th to 29th to fourth during his three seasons.

McElwain is a Missoula, Mont., native who played quarterback for FCS Eastern Washington in the early 1980s.

CBSSports.com's Jerry Hinnen contributed to this report

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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