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Though Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain said during preparations for the 2017 Outback Bowl that he did not plan to make any coaching staff changes outside of hiring a coach to fill the slot opened by the departure of defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, it’s clear that Florida may have further adjustments coming.
On the heels of a report just before the Outback Bowl that offensive line coach Mike Summers had interviewed with South Carolina (and his former boss at UF, Will Muschamp) about a lateral move comes a story from FootballScoop.com about the future of Alabama assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal.
According to FootballScoop, Cristobal is considering leaving the Crimson Tide for a “senior staff position, including coaching the offensive line” with Oregon. However, McElwain is “also considering Cristobal” for a similar role should Summers leave the program of his own volition or otherwise.
McElwain made it a point when asked about his coaching staff to note that improving its recruiting chops is a high priority for him this offseason. The Gators’ Class of 2017 is currently ranked No. 19 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings behind eight SEC programs, including South Carolina, and both of Florida’s in-state rivals Florida State and Miami.
To that end, Cristobal would be a tremendous replacement for Summers, who many experts believe is weak on the recruiting front. However, with Cristobal already holding a dual-role position from Alabama, other than a change of scenery and return to his home state, it’s tough to determine why Cristobal would leave the Tide for either of the aforementioned opportunities. Cristobal, known as one of the top recruiters in the nation, is a Miami native who coached under Randy Shannon (expected to be Florida’s next defensive coordinator) at Miami and served as head coach at FIU from 2007-12.
FootballScoop also reported on Dec. 30, 2016, that Florida plans to hire Alabama offensive analyst Mike Locksley as an assistant, though Locksley has since denied that there is an agreement in place or that he has made a decision to join the team. Some believe he could join the Gators as a co-offensive coordinator (alongside Doug Nussmeier), running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, taking the latter duties from Shannon, who would be promoted in such a move. That would also require UF flipping current running backs coach Tim Skipper to linebackers, a position he’s coached before.
It’s also possible that the newly reported Cristobal interest would be an either/or scenario with Locksley, depending what the coaches decide about their future.
Either way, these are big names Florida is being linked to as McElwain looks to fill out his coaching staff, and they are certainly options that show the coach is headed in the right direction with his offseason moves.