Florida coach Jim McElwain’s name being thrown around for Oregon job

By Adam Silverstein
November 28, 2016
Florida coach Jim McElwain’s name being thrown around for Oregon job
Football

Updated on Tuesday at 11:50 p.m.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain has come a long way from his roots in rural Montana. But that apparently does not mean he has lost interest in returning to where he is most comfortable.

According to USA Today’s Dan Wolken, there are “whispers” that McElwain “could be intrigued by the opportunity to return” to that section of the country as head coach at Oregon.

Born and raised in Montana, McElwain played college football and began his coaching career at Eastern Washington (1980-94) before serving as offensive coordinator at Montana State (1995-99). He returned to the West Coast in 2006-07 during stints with the Oakland Raiders and Fresno State, and he most recently spent the three seasons before joining Florida as head coach at Colorado State.

Wolken lists McElwain’s name fifth behind Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, Penn State’s James Franklin (who is about to be extended by the Nittany Lions after rebuilding the program and unlikely to leave) and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora. Nevertheless, Wolken notes the crux of McElwain’s interest would likely be the fact that the Gators have a new athletics director and Florida fans are under-appreciating him for bringing the program back-to-back SEC East division crowns.

When/if Oregon opens, the expectation is that Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck and Boise State’s Bryan Harsin would both be prime candidates. But don’t be surprised if Oregon pursues splashier names such as Penn State’s James Franklin and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora, who are both at Nike-affiliated schools. There also are whispers that Florida’s Jim McElwain could be intrigued by the opportunity to return to the Pacific Northwest, close to where he went to college and started his coaching career at Eastern Washington. Despite winning SEC East titles in his first two years, McElwain has been a bit under-appreciated by the Florida fan base and just got a new athletics director in Gainesville.


Update: Helfrich was fired by Oregon late Tuesday. Upon his dismissal, Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports and Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports both listed McElwain as a candidate for the Oregon job.

However, FootballScoop.com reported that that “none of the coaches we’ve spoken with belive” McElwain is a candidate “nor do any think this would be a good fit for what Oregon and Nike are looking for.”


What should be noted here is that McElwain, like most coaches in the nation, has an agent (Jimmy Sexton) who is undoubtedly angling to get his client a raise after what they deem to be another successful season in Gainesville, Florida. Just look at how Houston’s Tom Herman and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher were named as coaching candidates at LSU only for both to turn down the Tigers (Fisher to return to the Seminoles likely for a more substantial contract).

However, any reports at this time of the season should be taken seriously, and if McElwain were to leave, he would become the first Gators coach to jettison the team for another college head coaching job since Charlie Bachman went to Michigan State after the 1932 season.

While it is accurate that Florida fans under-appreciate McElwain for winning consecutive SEC East crowns, the reasoning is due to his to-this-point inability to turn around the Gators’ much-maligned offense despite two years at the helm. Florida is actually ranked lower in nearly every offensive category in 2016 than it was in 2014, Will Muschamp’s final season. It’s also true that McElwain was not hired by current UF athletic director Scott Striklin, though there’s nothing out there at this time to believe that they do not have a healthy relationship.

Furthermore, McElwain would be delivering an incredible blow to the Gators’ brand, which stands as one of the top athletic programs and college football teams in the nation. Considering he has stressed “brand” for two years and gone to great lengths to improve Florida’s behind-the-times facilities, it would be quite hypocritical for him to leave UF for Oregon.

Perhaps most importantly, the fit seems strange. Whereas Fleck and Harsin are young, excitable coaches that could reignite passion in the program, McElwain has a more laid-back demeanor and is not as apt to make noise outside the program.

So will McElwain wind up at Oregon? You never know, but odds are he’s back at Florida for a third season looking to continue building what he claims is headed in the right direction.

27 Comments

  1. Hank says:

    I would love for Oregon to take him off our hands. Mac won’t have an elite defense to bail him out next year.

  2. SW FL Joe says:

    Foley gave him a $750000 raise last year. He must also realize that any extra money paid to him will be that much less available to upgrade facilities and/or coaching staff which would seem to be a very high priority on Mac’s list.

  3. Eric says:

    We can only hope this is true.

  4. NoleNation says:

    Speaking as a Nole, we would prefer him to stay put!

    • Jareduf says:

      When rivals want a coach to stay, that’s a clear sign the coach isn’t getting the job done. Lets be honest, the East is as bad of a division for the SEC that I can remember. Winning the East isn’t really that great of an accomplishment. Gator fans see that the offense hasn’t improved at all and Mac hired a terrible offensive coordinator coming off a terrible year at Michigan. 114th in total offense in your 2nd season is completely unacceptable. What is clear is Foley continues to fail at picking good football coaches and hopefully the new AD is a lot better.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I feel the same way about Jimbo. So glad he stayed. We’ll be catching you front runners before too long. How sweet that will be.

      And only an idiot would be influenced by anything a Nole fan has to say. . but Gator Nation unfortunately has way more of those than 5 stars these days.

  5. MrGator says:

    If he doesn’t want to be here, let him leave. I don’t dislike Mac, and while he did take us to back to back East titles, since when did an East title matter? Hell I wouldn’t mind a Charlie Strong higher personally but there would be plenty of candidates.

  6. Dan says:

    Eric and Hank are the same kind of idiots as to why coaches don’t want to come to UF. Guy has been two the SEC championship against Bama for the past 2 years, dealing with the train wreck that Muschamp left, and you think he’s going to crush everything in two years? Miami and FSU are back as top tier programs and recruiting everywhere he is.

    No perspective.

    Oregon is the West Coast version of Florida. For years they have been title contenders until recently. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him go there. Fully funded by Nike. Much easier fan base (see above).

    I like Coach Mac. I think he’s trying to fix a ship that has a lot of holes, and he his team has had A LOT of injuries. Against FSU we were down 2 all american lb’s that will be playing on Sunday next year, and 60% of the offensive line (which wasn’t amazing to start) was backups before the end of the game.

    People will call for his head after getting beat next week, call for him to be fired after 2 straight appearances in Atlanta. Yea. THis is why he would take the job.

    Idiots. Bob Stoops isn’t coming here. Charlie Strong was only a top tier winner while Teddy Bridgewater played for him. WHo do you think is going to come rescue UF? Les Miles…? LOL

  7. Alan says:

    Statistically the offense was bad, but there is obvious progress under Mac. We have a kicker. Our O-line is wounded right now, but should be one of the best we have had in awhile next year. The receiving corp finally feels like it is headed in the right direction. Cleveland will be a solid compliment to Calloway next year. Our TEs are decent and we have good options for 3rd and 4th receivers. Scarlett has taken his rightful place as the #1 back and the depth Mac has there is promising. QB is far and away the biggest problem. We have still yet to see if Mac can develop a QB to lead this offense against SEC talent. Del Rio is too immobile and doesn’t have the arm to make the tough throws, Appleby was a patch job to limp to the end of the season. Either Del Rio has to become a true gunslinger in the off-season (not likely) or Franks/Trask take over. The biggest problem is since they have no experience he likely ends up starting Del Rio against Michigan next year, which could delay finding out if we really have anything in those other two. I feel confident Mac will be back next year and the year after that, but if our O is still in the crapper at the end of next year his seat gets hot in 2018. Getting back to the SEC championship this year was an impressive feat. The problem I think most people have isn’t that we lost those 3 games its how we lost them. We were up big against UT and got run out of Knoxville. We were never in the Arkansas or FSU games and that stings worse than losing a heartbreaker. Losing to 2 of the big 4 doesn’t help either, beating UGA and LSU is sweet especially going into Death Valley like that, but being dominated by FSU and blowing a big lead at UT really smarts.

    • Gatorfan says:

      Wait a minute, why is Trask, and Franks still inexperienced Bama, and fsu starts freshman Qb’s. Franks was a 5 star qb, and should be playing. He needs to grow with the offense. Had he played last year, he would have had experience. It is my opinion, that Delrio starting at qb, is political, or a hookup. First off, he is the son of an NFL coach, and coach Mac had briefly coached him before. Why use a retread qb, that could not produce at lesser programs, and lesser conferences. Why?

  8. Matt says:

    Where are we going to get another guy to inherit a terrible offense and make them worse?

  9. RC says:

    Mac’s got to go!

  10. G2 says:

    I like Coach Mac but don’t think he’s equipped to recruit with the big boys.

    I know when Urbs was here the team was made up mostly of 4* guys, with a few 3* and 5* sprinkled in. We seemed to have dropped to mostly 3’s (last 2 classes) with a few 4’s and 5’s. Star ratings do matter, just look at Bama, OSU, Clemson, Michigan, etc. We are not getting these athletes anymore, this year looks worse than last for some reason with some success on the field.

    Yes, he has won the East 2 years in a row but its a horrible division these days. Our rivals are loading up so the East titles will be short lived considering the guys leaving early for the NFL. So enjoy a pounding by Bama, a loss in the bowl game…then what?
    Unless Mac pulls some rabbits out of hats this cycle the future looks bleak. By the end of next year his seat will be on fire! Maybe he should seriously consider the Ducks, they don’t have the tradition UF does.

  11. SW FL Joe says:

    Careful what you wish for because Stricklin’s first choice would probably be Dan Mullen.

    • Mullen is not coming to Florida.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Mullen would win a National Championship at U.F. But somehow Gator Nation has it in its head that hiring Mullen would be a disaster.

      And before you start with the statistics and the other onslaught of Mullen-hate, Miss St will NEVER be UF. Give him UF resources, facilities, tradition, Fla HS talent, etc., and he will win a National Championship. The success he’s had at Miss St has been with everyone else’s leftovers and, with that, he’s done a pretty good job.

      We’d score points. Promise you that.

  12. 1974Gator says:

    I’m reading these posts and laughing my ass off about the shear stupidity written here. Anyone calling for Coach Mac’s head is an idiot. If he is being mentioned for the Oregon job be proud that we have that calibre of offensive mind. On the other hand, yeah, let’s fire him and return to the total mediocrity of the Zook and Muschamp years.

    • Matt says:

      What are you talking about? “That caliber of offensive mind” and your laughing at us…Return to the total mediocrity of Zook and Muschamp? In your mind you think Mcelwain is better than those guys…Does occur to anyone that Muschamp was better than Mcelwain? Muschamp had 2 top 5 recruiting classes, Mcelwain was 22nd, 14th, and currently at 25th…When Muschamp was here, the side of the ball where he is expert, defense was top 10 in the Nation and continues to be 2 years after he left. The side of the ball where Mcelwain is a supposed expert, the offense was 111th last year and 114th this year. His contribution is very clear…

    • Big Boy says:

      First off, Muschamp should still be here, big mistake. Strong sucked when he was here and proved it in Texas. Please don’t bring him here in any capacity. Coach Mac is a weirdo with little hope of succeeding. Florida should pray for his departure. No idea who should come in here but the ship is sinking. How about Billema?

      • Matt says:

        Big Boy, you are the first fan to raise that point. Muschamp should still be here..I agree..That was the error. And it was because of the negativity of the fan base and the general momentum of things, which was poor at that time. Now, years later, when I am critical of Mcelwain, everyone assumes it is just another spoiled and demanding Gator, ragging on a Coach, like they always do..This is a bizarre psychological situation because the fan base is sensitive to other fans criticism of coaches, but this time it is warranted and I was never one of the negative fans in the past, I was always for Will Muschamp and certainly all the others, Mcelwain is the first guy where I see very little or no contribution from the Head Coach. I think the players are winning, when they do, moslty in spite of him, instead of because of him…The LSU game, they were ready to ball, they wanted it, that was due to the disrespect from LSU..That was an external driver of passion and motivation, Mcelwain should be tapping into that, every game, but he isn’t. That hasn’t been there before or since, I don’t think we likely to see that again any time soon.

        • Michael Jones says:

          The fact that you and Big Boy think Muschamp should still be here is all I really need to know about the value of your opinion.

          • Matt says:

            That’s the entire misconception. Muschamp was crap, in fact, he was so bad that Mcelwain gets a pass for years, without accountability, after Muschamp left because everything bad is still because of Muschamp..That is nuts..The offense was better under Muschamp..Yes Will Muschamp was that bad and Jim Mcelwain is that good..Every loss in the last 2 years was because of Muschamp, every win was due to Mcelwain’s brilliant coaching…It’s such a backwards but common viewpoint.. I see it as the opposite, Muschamp set up a championship level defense, Mcelwain was brought in to complement that foundation with improved offensive play which obviously hasn’t happened..

    • Michael Jones says:

      You’re absolutely right. But that’s Gator Nation. Perpetually discontented. Do you notice how few posts are on this site after we win a game? Even a big game? Go back and check the LSU posts and compare that to the volume of anti-Mac rubbish that’s being spewed now. These entitled malcontents only come out when things are bad. When we win a big game, they’re silent. I guess they think that’s their birthright.

      How soon we forget the sorry state of affairs in Gainesville before Spur Dog turned it all around!

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