Image Credit: ESPNI
Truth be told, not much was learned from the Florida Gators‘ appearance on Monday to open the 2016 SEC Media Days. Head coach Jim McElwain provided his well-rehearsed answers at the podium, and the players that Florida brought to Hoover, Alabama, were far from controversial.
Not all was lost, though, as there were some standout moments from the three-or-so hours the Gators were under the spotlight in front of nearly 1,100 gathered media members.
1. All about Nick Saban. It wasn’t a prediction for no reason. McElwain was asked about Alabama coach Nick Saban nearly as much as he was about Florida. Luckily, McElwain had a good quip in his pocket when basically asked to praise his former boss yet again. “I was excited to be able to play him [in the SEC Championship],” McElwain said. “I know this: I’ll be excited to play him again this year, because I know it’s in Atlanta.” Eventually, McElwain did speak about Saban, noting that he thinks he can coach “forever” because “that’s just the way he’s wired.”
2. Another shot at the University Athletic Association. McElwain has not been shy in publicly criticizing the Gators, sometimes in a joke-serious manner, often in a serious-serious manner. Florida football was spendthrift for too long, and McElwain has been on top of athletic director Jeremy Foley to open up his pockets and spend a bunch of money to improve the program both on and off the field. So when he was asked about Florida State’s ridiculous “state championship” rings, he began his answer by kind of praising FSU before throwing in a shot at UF. “I don’t know whether our administration has it in our budget to do that. I don’t know,” he said.
3. Getting the Tennessee talk going. The Vols, which have lost 11 straight about the Gators, have spent the offseason receiving tons of praise. They’ll eventually be predicted to win the SEC East later this week, another preseason honor that will go along with their 11-point odds over UF in their meeting later this year. Told on Monday that Georgia was Florida’s biggest rival, McElwain smirked. “I think you may have to check with Tennessee on that one,” he joked. McElwain was not the only one to have UT on his tongue Monday.
Senior linebacker Jarrad Davis called Gators-Vols “one of the funnest games of the year … because we win,” during a conversation with national reporters. Junior offensive lineman David Sharpe said he was looking forward to the game because Florida is prepared to go into it even stronger than last year. He said it’s a “head shaker” that UT is favored over UF, especially by double digits.
“It’s all of our responsibility to win that game one more time. Each and every year, just win it one more time. Keep adding to that record, keep adding to it,” Davis said, per ESPN.
4. Back but not “back.” McElwain clarified Monday that both sophomore wide receiver Antonio Callaway and junior quarterback Treon Harris are enrolled for the Summer B semester, working out in the facility and participating in team activities. He would not, however, refer to either player as off suspension or reinstated with the program, noting that their status is up to administration. “Nothing has been resolved yet and there’s not really a timeframe for it,” he said. It does seem apparent that both Callaway and Harris are on their way to rejoining the team at some point, though it would not be a surprise if the players missed some game time when the season began, particularly Harris who has dealt with multiple team violations since the start of his career.
5. Offensive line assignments cleared up. Sophomore OL Martez Ivey is slated to begin the season at guard, not tackle, despite many believing tackle is not only his position of choice but where he will most likely end his career. McElwain divulged this while meeting with the local media before his main press conference. Ivey started eight games at guard as a true freshman.
6. Media Day, Part II. As promised, junior cornerback Jalen Tabor held his own media day as he was not invited to join Florida in Hoover. Tabor’s Q&A, which was supposed to take place on Twitter but mostly included Periscope broadcasts in which he gave one- or two-word answers to simple questions did not reveal too much. Tabor said he expects 8-10 interceptions for himself this season and considers anything short of not winning the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s best defensive back) a failure. He backtracked on that second comment but still noted that he had high expectations for himself. Tabor also said he thinks redshirt junior Nick Washington should start opposite senior safety Marcus Maye in the defensive backfield and that senior WR Chris Thompson is the fastest player on the team.