GAINESVILLE — The Florida Gators wanted Jim McElwain to be their football coach. And McElwain wanted the job.Both sides blanched at the cost but ultimately were willing to pay the price.Florida and McElwain agreed Thursday to the largest buyout package ever in college football to get him out of his contract with Colorado State: $7 million.The University of Florida Athletic Association will pay Colorado State $3 million over six years; Florida and Colorado State will play a game in Gainesville between 2017-20 with the Rams receiving $2 million; and McElwain agreed to a $2 million payment over time to Colorado State."It's an honor to be a part of the one of most powerful brands in college athletics in the Florida Gators," McElwain said. "I'm humbled, yet very excited about the tremendous opportunity that Dr. Machen (Bernie, UF president) and Jeremy Foley (athletic director) have afforded me and my family. I can't tell you how eager I am to get to Gainesville to set a course for who we are going to be and what we will be all about."McElwain, 52, will be introduced at a news conference Saturday in Gainesville. His six-year contract calls for compensation averaging $3.5 million a year. He replaces Will Muschamp, fired Nov. 16 after four seasons."Coach McElwain was someone we targeted from the beginning of the search," Foley said. "The more we worked through the process and did our due diligence, coupled with our meeting and conversations with him and those around him, it was obvious he is the right person to lead the Florida Gator football program."McElwain's hiring came after three days of contentious negotiations over the buyout. The coach initially believed school president Tony Frank had agreed to dramatically reduce the $7.5 million buyout called for in his contract.But under criticism Frank held firm.Jack Graham, the athletic director who orchestrated the contract but was fired in August, said the deal was meant to protect CSU from having bigger schools such as Florida continue to poach its rising star coaches."Literally the way Mac and I talked about it, we were getting married for 10 years and we had a pre-nup in place," Graham told cbssports.com on Thursday. "He damn well better not look at another girl. We were completely aligned on that."The Gators were willing to pay such a steep price because McElwain took over a Colorado State program that was 9-27 in three seasons before his arrival and produced a 22-16 record in his three seasons, including 10-2 this season.McElwain's team features Garrett Grayson, the No. 2 quarterback in the nation in pass efficiency who has thrown for 3,779 yards, 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season."Y'all just got one HELL of a coach," Grayson tweeted Thursday. "I won't be surprised if y'all are national champs in 2-3 years! Good luck!!"The Rams just missed out on a major bowl this season with a loss to Air Force on a last-second field goal in the regular-season finale. Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie wide receiver Robert Herron faced McElwain in 2012 and 2013 as a conference rival at Wyoming. His team beat Colorado State 44-0 his freshman year, and had been 3-0 until last season, when McElwain turned the corner with CSU beating Wyoming 52-22."He changed that program around," Herron said. "We were 3-0 against CSU but that last year, they kind of put it on us pretty bad. It was the coaches, most definitely. I don't know if it was recruiting, or how he coached, but he turned that program around."McElwain's previous experience includes a stint as offensive coordinator at Alabama, where he was part of national championship teams in 2009 and 2011 and helped defeat the Gators in the 2009 SEC title game, Florida's last appearance there."Florida is about to get really good. REALLY FAST," former Alabama wide receiver Jared Watson said on his Twitter account.For Foley, McElwain fits the major criteria he set forth for the job. He has recruited the state of Florida well.He's an offensive-minded coach who has proven he can produce teams with a style Florida fans will embrace. Since 2013, CSU has scored 30 or more points in 17 games under McElwain. The Gators scored 30 or more just 16 times in four seasons with Muschamp. McElwain has proven he can develop quarterbacks, which the Gators have been lacking."The most important thing with Jim McElwain is he's a developer of QBs and that's what Florida needs," ESPN analyst Brian Griese said.In four seasons at Alabama, McElwain helped the Tide to a 48-6 record. In 2011 Alabama led the SEC in rushing at 219.8 yards per game, ranked second in total offense (433.4) and third in scoring (36 points per game). In 2010, the Tide was third in both total yards and scoring.Former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy, now with the Bucs, played on two national title teams. He's hoping McElwain can help the Gators compete for championships again. "Hopefully he can change the program around," Murphy said. "It's been tough to see. The offense has kind of sputtered for the last, what, three or four years? I believe everything will start turning around."McElwain's success in the past is well-documented. Now all he has to do is generate more of the same in the pressure-cooker environment that is Florida football."He's one of the best people you could ever ask for," said former Tide quarterback Greg McElroy, now an analyst on the SEC Network. "Everyone in Gainesville should rejoice for the type of coach he can be." Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report. Contact Antonya English at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Gators.