Pat Forde posted this to Yahoo sports last night saying he believes the leading candidate for the Florida job is Colorado State coach Jim McElwain. That should not create a collective sigh of relief from Ole Miss fans since McElwain, reportedly, within the last year signed a contract at CSU with a buyout clause of $7.5 million.
The story also says Hugh Freeze is on the short list for Florida AD Jeremy Foley. This squares with what I’ve heard for the last week.
SBNation reports that Freeze has been offered $4.2 million to $4.3 million to coach at Florida.
Florida responded with this announcement a few minutes ago:
Florida releases 7:45am statement saying it has not made an offer to anyone, and any media reports claiming that are false.
Sources told me last night that Ole Miss will counter with at least $4 million and possibly more.
We talked money with Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork when the Florida rumors first surfaced and asked if he felt like he could pay $5 million for a football coach. He didn’t say no.
“The new number became $3 million last year. We’re at $3 million. So what’s that new number? Is it closer to 4? I don’t know that 5 is the new norm yet. Again, where does it stop, and who is the program that makes the decision where it stops. We don’t want to put ourselves in that position. We’re going to dictate how we feel about that coach. We’re going to dictate with our resources and what that sweet spot is, I think it’s all to be determined. I wouldn’t say it’s five. We’re committed to playing and competing at the highest level. Whatever that number is, with what we’re comfortable, will be the number?
In recent days Freeze has talked about his happiness at Ole Miss and as recently as Saturday night, after a 31-17 win over Mississippi State, said he’d had no contact with Florida. He didn’t say that people representing him had had no contact with Florida. No direct contact between Freeze and Foley was expected before the end of the Rebels regular season, based on what I was hearing.
Bjork told the Daily Journal during the Rebels’ open date week that he had already reached out to Freeze’s agent, Jimmy Sexton. A restructured contract for Freeze has been in the works since before then.
The unfinished detail right now may be money for assistant coaches, not for Freeze.
Multiple sources in Florida before the weekend confirmed Foley’s interest in Freeze but were cool to the idea that contact had been made at that time. One source believed the level of Foley’s interest would be impacted by the outcome in the Egg Bowl.
The Freeze-Florida chatter seemed to take a break during the Egg Bowl but will pick up this week and will be there until Freeze either signs an extension at Ole Miss or Florida names a coach.