Florida dumps McElwain as head football coach

by Gary Shelton on October 30, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

jim McElwain didn't last long in Gainesville./STEVEN MUNCIE

jim McElwain didn't last long in Gainesville./STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 3 a.m.

If Jim McElwain was one of the boys, and I mean that in a good way, he'd still be employed at the University of Florida.

If he were a humble man, a sharing man, a man who understood that teamwork means the bosses, too, then he'd still be the head Gator. Oh, a lot of people wouldn't like it, because he'd still have a lousy offense and second-tier accomplishments. But if he was a good guy, if he had sincerity instead of a Saban complex, he'd still have a job.

Or, if he were a stinker of a guy, a guy who thought it was his program to do with as he saw fit, and he won, well, of course he'd still be employed. Heck, this university kept Urban Meyer around, remember. It might not believe in winning at all costs, but it likes winning in the face of most of them.

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 Jim McElwain never got his offense going./STEVEN MUNCIE

Jim McElwain never got his offense going./STEVEN MUNCIE

Ah, but McElwain had none of the accomplishments that Florida coaches are judged upon, and he had all of the sandpaper on his personality. People didn't seem to like McElwain. They didn't think he was sincere. He didn't care what others thought or when. He walked into Florida, a place where football matters, and he wanted fans to sit and simply applaud at the rare first down. Evidently, he wanted his bosses to do the same.

Look, I'm not saying that Florida didn't act quickly here. McElwain didn't get three complete seasons, and he did win two tiny trophies as an Eastern Division champion. There are corners of the country where it looks very much like Florida was reactionary again.

By now, Florida has worked very hard for its reputation of being a difficult place to coach. The expectations are silly, and the patience is limited, and the fans can wear on the health of even the best coaches. All of that is understood.

But to understand this firing, you have to understand that McElwain considered himself the King of the North around here. He didn't answer, and he didn't explain. That might work for other coaches, but not for him.

And so it was this week when McElwain started talking about death threats. And when his bosses — no doubt considering the size of a lawsuit — wanted more details, he wouldn't provide them. How arrogant. Your bosses want to talk to you about pink bell-bottoms, well, you talk about pink bell-bottoms. Most of us have been in the workplace long enough to know that. Especially if you aren't in the running for a division title.

Again, let's not confuse ourselves. If McElwain truly was a quarterback whisperer, and if he knew shortcuts to the end zone, I imagine his bosses would have bitten their lips and suffered it when they bled. But McElwain's tenure will be remembered for a rotation of bad quarterbacks and lopsided SEC title game defeats. Was that about to get better anytime soon? Or was McElwain's ouster a matter of time.

And, if it was indeed a matter of time, why not act now, when you might be able to salvage some of his buyout.

The thing that amuses me  when big-name schools hire coaches is the assumption that all of them share. "Why, if so-and-so had a chance to come to my school, he'd jump." Usually, it's not true. But with Scott Frost at UCF and Charlie Strong at USF, there are temptations all around.

Meanwhile, the real issue here, of course, is money. Florida wants to gets rid of a tyrant, and it might get to do so at a bargain price.

If not, McElwain will cost the Gators $12.7 million to replace him.

In Gainesville, they have a word for that.

It's called “a bargain.”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Martin October 30, 2017 at 8:54 am

Hope we in TB don’t lose Charlie Strong – enough coaching carousel at USF. I guess as long as the Bulls are a second tier team, it’ll be that way….and that Taggert’s name is even in the mix is crazy, but it is.

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Gary Shelton October 30, 2017 at 10:37 am

Hard to believe Taggart isn’t someone just naming names.

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