Joining a handful of other Southeastern Conference coaches in Bristol, Connecticut, on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain went through ESPN’s “car wash” for the first time, appearing on a number of the networks’ media platforms while making four live television appearances over the course of the day.
OnlyGators.com is following McElwain’s appearances on Thursday and is updating this post live with the news, notes and quotes from all of his stops. Due to most of McElwain’s spots not airing live, this post will be updated into the night.
CAR WASH (LIVE) SCHEDULE
11:20 a.m. – First Take (ESPN2)
12:00 p.m. – The Herd (ESPNU, ESPN Radio)
1:20 p.m. – SportsCenter (ESPN)
2:00 p.m. – College Football Live w/ Steve Spurrier (ESPN)
As was customary under Will Muschamp, McElwain and Florida’s contingent picked up South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier on the way to Tuesday’s event. McElwain and Spurrier will share the College Football Live stage at 2 p.m.
— Scott Carter (@GatorZoneScott) July 21, 2015
McElwain began his day on ESPN2‘s First Take and spoke mostly about the Gators quarterback situation and his expectations from that position.
“Our responsibility is to get all these young guys integrated as soon as possible. We’ve got an influx of new players coming in, obviously an unsettled quarterback situation – both Treon Harris and Will Grier had really good springs kind of grasping what we were doing,” he explained. “Really for us as a coaching staff [the job] is to look back and say and really evaluate, what do these guys do best? Don’t ask them to do some of the things we need to work on but let’s accentuate the positives. As we go in, it’s a challenge, but you know what? Every year is a challenge.”
He continued: “The one thing that really differentiates guys is the way they elevate the play of the people around you. I wish I could say what ‘it’ is and we’d all be rich right now, right? But at the same time, seeing how the guys respond to them and how they produce while they’re on the field. That’s why that position is so important as to what the other guys [do].”
McElwain was also asked about learning under Nick Saban, and he related what Saban told him when he initially hired him. “‘All I’m going to ask is two things: I want you to work hard and be complete in what you do,'” McElwain recalled. “Be thorough, be complete, don’t leave a stone unturned, always take advantage of whatever there is out there to learn and get better. We never arrived, none of us do, becuase as soon as we think we have, someone is out-producing us.”
The segment ended with McElwain being asked what exactly went wrong with the Gators in 2014. “Coach Muschamp, his staff, they were some really good coaches. For whatever reason, something didn’t work. You can point at a lot of a little things, probably the continuity on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. “That consistency is something [that’s important and can affect player development]. That might be one of the things as you look at it, and yet, int his business there’s a lot of good coaches and a lot of good coaches where things didn’t go their way.”
Host Colin Cowherd was off, replaced in studio by Stugotz (seriously, that’s his name) and Danny Kanell; in other words, the replacements on The Herd were no better than the normal host. As such, McElwain was asked to play a game where he answered questions about Cowherd (the two were roommates at Eastern Washington back int he day) in exchange for questions about Florida. Riveting.
That said, McElwain made a fun declaration at the beginning of the interview, which probably should have ended it where it started. “I always say, ‘I’ll go ahead and answer any question you ask – any question – as long as it’s not a stupid question.'”
McElwain was asked how good junior All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is at his job, and of course he offered some praise for the defensive standout. “That guy is unbelievable. You know what separates him? Those guys that practice the way that he practices. He practice shard, he practices and perfects his craft and really takes pride in that. He’s competitive. I just love the way he comes to work every day. The guy can lock them down and obviously help you on defense becuase he can eliminate somebody. You know what? He’s something special.”
He also discussed whether the Gators have talent to build off of at the wide receiver position. “I think we’ve got a couple guys that we need to figure out how to get them the ball,” he began. “These guys have to have X amount of touches – Demarcus Robinson and Brandon Powell are two guys in particular that have explosive playmaking ability. now it’s up to us to figure out how to get them in mismatches and get them the ball.”
Next up for McElwain was a spot on the big show, SportsCenter. McElwain repeated his mantra about putting Florida’s playmakers in the position to make plays and once again noted that he is excited to see whether Grier or Harris makes the players around him better and ultimately wins the Gators’ starting quarterback job.
McElwain was then asked a unique question by Linda Cohn, who brought up Saban’s suggestion at the 2015 SEC Media Days about not giving NFL evaluations to players until after the bowl game. He did not answer the question directly, but did praise Hargreaves (saying he expects him to go higher than No. 6 overall next year) and then discussed player evaluations in general.
“Those great ones, you know what, they’re going to always go out and be the best they can be in everything they do [regardless of the evaluations]. And yet it’s hard. There’s a fine balance there. It’s interesting, you kind of wish and you wonder some of the advice these young guys are getting and where it’s coming from. You really wish, at times, that they got better advice,” McElwain said. “Really going out and getting experts in the field that can give them an honest opinion. It’s not some guy form home or whatever it is. Let them evaluate it, let them and their families sit down and make sure that’s the stretch they want to make.”
McElwain’s day concluded on the set of College Football Live, where he sat down with Spurrier and discussed a number of topics before getting a segment of his own after the commercial break. Spurrier, of course, was the star of the first segment and had a great answer when asked if he gave McElwain any advice on the plane ride over. “He don’t need any advice from me. He just needs some ballplayers. If they’ve got some ballplayers, they’re going to be fine,” Spurrier said.
McElwain kicked off the show by discussing his expectations for the Gators in 2015. “We’re going to go out and the thing I like is how these guys have really taken to the transition. They’re committed to each other. They’ve really helped this young group already, kind of indoctrinated them into how we want things done. … it doesn’t matter whether we’re playing [football or] Tiddlywinks, we all want to win.”
The hosts jumped back to Spurrier and aired a package about some of his best verbal barbs over the years, which led Spurrier to recount Urban Meyer’s favorite of all-time, which Spurrier said back when Florida State was under investigation for getting free shoes. “We found a couple gators that FSU hates more than the Florida Gators. They’re the NCAA investi-gators,” he recalled.
McElwain was then asked about Spurrier’s penchant for quips and verbal barbs, a question to which McElwain provided his best answer of the afternoon. “I hope, you kind of hope you get the respect where maybe I can get one of those [directed towards me],” he said. “I enjoy it. It is truly all in fun.”
Addressing the Gators trying to put a wall around the state of Florida in recruiting, McElwain said that concept would be near-impossible to pull off but he is confident that the program will be just fine bringing in players because it offers more than most others do. “What we need to do is do the best we can in terms of trying to build our footprint and try to keep those guys in state. That’s something we’re trying to do, and yet, everybody recruits Florida. There ain’t a school in the country that doesn’t recruit there,” he said.
“Plus, there’s a lot of schools that have a lot of nice stuff. But it isn’t all about ‘stuff;’ it’s about people, it’s about what that degree’s going to do for you – and in our case – it’s about Gators taking care of Gators once you’re done.”
That said, McElwain offered some comments about what Florida is doing to move in the “more, better stuff” direction.
“Let’s go ahead and at least step in the direction that everybody else has gone. My deal is not necessarily our coaches offices; I’m fine, I’m still in the one Coach Spurrier was in. I’m good with that. It’s about the players. New dorms, from a security standpoint, from the luxuries that they can have in those, obviously our academic center, our nutrition center, our office of student life and then our full practice facility has been gutted, added to with the indoor. We’re moving in the right direction, and at the end of the day, you always have to be growing because somebody else is. It’s about always trying to move the needle.”
OnlyGators.com will continue updating this post shortly.