Jeremy Foley has left Colorado without Jim McElwain on the plane.
The school's official Twitter account acknowledged the talks with McElwain, which is an unusual step for any school during a coaching search. It's also unusual for an athletic director to basically not bother disguising his trip to interview a coach, conduct the interview inside said coach's own home, and have reporters staked out at the home taking creeper paparazzi pictures of the inside.
At this point, it looks inevitable that McElwain will become the next head football coach in Gainesville. The hangup in finalizing the deal doesn't sound like it has anything to do with McElwain himself but rather with Foley trying to negotiate with Colorado State to get the well documented $7.5 million buyout for McElwain down.
The Coloradoan reported that UF wants the buyout figure dropped to $3 million, but a source for the Orlando Sentinel says that there's not a chance for it to get that low. Personally, I'm not sure what UF has to offer that CSU would want other than a home-and-home, and that's not going to happen. Foley prizes having seven home games so much that at present, he has no intention of scheduling future series with Miami (FL). If even that's out of the picture, a road game at Fort Collins (or even Mile High Stadium in Denver) is supremely unlikely. The Sentinel's source also said that McElwain wants to meet with his team in person, which would explain why the plane left without McElwain today.
The noisiness of this search process is unusual for Florida. Foley managed to interview both Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp in person without being detected, and at least in Muschamp's case, word of interest in him didn't break until just before the hire became official. This time, word about talks with McElwain from Saturday leaked out on Sunday.
It's understandable why Florida wants the buyout lowered. It owes Will Muschamp $6.4 million for his buyout, and a new contract for McElwain will cost (complete guess here) in the neighborhood of $12-14 million total for something like four years at $3 million to $3.5 million per year. Paying the entire $7.5 million buyout up front would push the price tag of this move up to $25 million or more. Florida is one of the few programs that can commit that kind of cash without too much trouble, and the larger payouts from the playoff (everyone gets a cut, just like with the BCS) and the SEC Network help out there too. It's still a nontrivial amount of money though.
So we're all still on McElwain watch for now. I'd guess we'll get the press conference at some point tomorrow, as time is ticking to get him out on the road recruiting before the dead period hits, but it all apparently depends on how the negotiations between Foley and CSU go.