Florida AD Jeremy Foley meets with CSU’s McElwain Tuesday night

Keegan Pope

Jim McElwain has become the University of Florida’s top target for its head coaching vacancy, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.

University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and a number of other administrators arrived in Fort Collins Tuesday afternoon and met with McElwain at his home for more than six hours. A private jet chartered from Gainesville, Florida landed at the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport around 3 p.m. and the personnel on the flight were immediately transported by SUV to McElwain’s house.

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The third-year Colorado State head coach, who was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year Tuesday morning, has led a swift turnaround of the Rams’ program, taking over after three consecutive 3-9 seasons. In his first season in 2012, McElwain led the Rams to a 4-8 record before leading them to an 8-6 record and a 48-45 victory over Washington State in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. This season, McElwain led the Rams to a 10-2 regular season record and their first national ranking since 2003.

Before his tenure at CSU, McElwain was the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama and one of their top recruiters. In his time, McElwain landed top prospects from the state of Florida, such as current Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and CSU running back Dee Hart, both of whom were the the top prospects nationally at their position in 2010 and 2011.

McElwain has a $7.5 million buyout in his contract extension, which was signed this summer.

Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at kpope@collegian.com and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.