The curious case of McElwain and the death threats

by Gary Shelton on October 26, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

McElwain borught up the threats, but doesn't want to  go into detail./CARMEN MANDATO

McElwain brought up the threats, but doesn't want to go into detail./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 2 a.m.

The questions are these.

In trying to defend against the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs, does Jim McElwain try the time-honored “pants-on-fire” defense?

And in the secondary, who lines up in the Pinocchio position?

Welcome to the strange case of Jim McElwain and the death threats, the ones he brought up but doesn't seem to want to discuss. Suddenly, the world seems to doubt Jim McElwain, his ability to coach and his ability to tell the truth. Frankly, both of those may be bigger obstacles than the Bulldogs.

By now, you probably heard that McElwain salted his Monday press conference by mentioning that he, his players and his staff had received death threats. The

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curious part is that it bothered McElwain so much he brought it up on his own, but didn't offer any more details when asked about it by his superiors.

When you first heard of McElwain's words,well, the sad thing is that no one was surprised. There is a widening gap between hostile fans and the teams they follow, and well, no one ever accused Gator fans of being reasonable. These guys go to bowl games with torches and pitchforks.

So while most of us shook our heads upon hearing the news, no one thought it was out of the realm of possibility. Heck, across the state, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher just got into it with a fan. Disappointment lights a fire in a lot of watchers.

But the McElwain story took a weird turn when bosses brought him in for a meeting. A statement from them concluded with “He added no further details.”

Huh? Your bosses ask you about death threats toward players and coaches, and you offer the bosses “no further details.” That's unbelievable. You try to explain it to yourself. Maybe McElwain was busy game-planning. Maybe he was out recruiting. Maybe he embellished the story to start with.

At any rate, the implication is that the Florida bosses don't quite buy into what McElwain is selling. Which is a precarious position for a coach.

Look, I don't think McElwain would make this up. And I don't think he would play dodgeball with his bosses. It's easier to believe that McElwain didn't really believe the threats and didn't want to get into it. Still, that's not his call. When higher-ups want details, well, you give them. Any coach and any school gives them. Heck, just be glad they weren't asking about your offense (No. 102 in the nation.)

Wednesday, on a conference call, McElwain still waffled.

"When it becomes unmanageable, at that point (I'll give details)," he said. "Like I said, I've got a lot of care and care for this program and these people. At the same time, allowing a couple things get to you, you know what? You can't do that. And ultimately that's the business we're in. And you know what, we'll move forward and get ready to go play this ballgame."

So what's the deal? Is McElwain suddenly the guy who decides what is a credible threat and what isn't?

I think one of the things is those who know me and the people that realize I'm a real passionate guy and a guy," McElwain said, rambling a bit, "There's obviously letting, you know, exactly what I tell our people not to do is allow one or two misguided remarks get to you.

"The care I have and passion for these players, this university, and the fact we have an unbelievable fanbase. It's great. There's passion. I mean when you go into that Swamp it's something special, and our guys feel it. Yeah, you know, I do. I feel bad for sometimes being open and being honest. And yet at the same time, I've seen this movie. I understand it. If it gets to a point then we'll go from there."

It isn't easy coaching at Florida in the best of times. Fans want a 12-win season when there are only 11 games scheduled. They want offense. They want 50-point victories. They want SEC titles, not division titles. They want greatness.

One thing seems sure: If Florida doesn't win — and it has Georgia and FSU left — then this won't help McElwain. Nothing short of full disclosure will.

Right about now, McElwain is probably sorry he brought the whole thing up. Clearly, he's a man unaccustomed to explaining himself. If he wasn't going to get the proper people involved in something as serious as death threats, well, why would he?

So what are we to make of this? That McElwain overstated the situation? That he shut his office door on the administrators. That he weighed the death threat against people in his program and decided it wasn't serious enough?

No matter what your answers are, they don't appear to be helping McElwain.


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