Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain‘s public outburst at junior running back Kelvin Taylor was a national story Saturday into Sunday, and it remained one Monday when the coach and the player’s father, former Florida RB Fred Taylor, separately addressed the incident at length.
Fred Taylor, appearing on ESPN Radio‘s Dan LeBatard Show, called McElwain’s outburst “a little bit of an overreaction” but noted he does “understand coaching” and understood the moment and reason for McElwain’s rant at his son.
He did, however, note that McElwain being so angry and demonstrative on the sideline gives outsiders the opportunity to “make a mockery” of the Gators, calling the entire incident “a little much.”
“History shows that the coaches that go and act that way, there will be a bigger mockery over time than the actual player will [deal with],” he said. “My son, he’ll forget about this. He’s forgotten about it, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
Kelvin Taylor said as much Sunday on Twitter. “I love coach Mac!!! He’s going make me a better person Got nothing , but respect for him! #GatorNation,” he wrote on the social media service.
Fred Taylor also noted that the throat slash celebration that got his son in trouble with the referees and McElwain was one of his signature celebrations back in the day. He chalked up the mistake to his son feeling good about scoring a touchdown while not being the featured running back.
“He wants an opportunity to not get caught up in the whole rotating three running backs. Two, well, you deal with it. Three? The rhythm and that piece of it, it’s sort of frustrating for him,” the father said. “He had the opportunity to sort of punch on in and he got caught up in the celebration his old man used to do.”
McElwain said he and Kelvin Taylor spoke after the game and afterwards. “We talked about how hard he played. We talked about the lessons. And I hugged him, just like I did after the incident happened.”
The coach noted that he was not proud of his outburst – “I’m no different: I make mistakes, we all make mistakes.” – even though he stood behind his reasoning for it given the lessons he is trying to teach the players.
“I don’t feel good about it. This is a very public job, it’s a public thing that we do. I understand that I have a long ways to go and I make mistakes. I absolutely [do],” he said. “And yet, I got to make sure that whatever it is, we can’t hurt ourselves. The frustrating part is we had really made some strides to do that.”
He pointed out that even coaches can learn lessons as a season goes on.
“There’s lessons that even I learn. And yet, we’ve talked about acts that hurt the ball squad. By that 15-yard [penalty], they ended up getting a heck of a return and put us in a predicament,” McElwain explained. “It’s one of the things that we’ve got to learn is, look, unforced errors are something we can’t do. Really good teams, prominent programs, it doesn’t happen to. We just need to keep moving forward.”
And McElwain wasn’t the only one not pleased with the incident.
“I’m not proud of it and neither is my mother, 94 years old,” he said. “I got an earful from her, too, and rightfully so.”
He added: “In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a pretty passionate guy, a pretty emotional guy. I want the best for this university and this organization and program moving forward.”