The Florida Gators on Thursday official announced the hiring of Jim McElwain as the 24th head football coach in program history.
There is plenty to know about the former Colorado State head coach and Alabama offensive coordinator, which OnlyGators.com will break down in this primer.
Name: Jim McElwain
Nickname: Mac / Coach Mac
Age: 52 – At the time of his hiring, McElwain is the oldest head coach in the history of Florida football. The next-oldest, Ron Zook, was 47 at the time of his hiring.
Hometown: Missoula, Montana
Family: Karen (wife), Johanna (daughter, 23), Elizabeth (daughter, 21), Jerrett (son, 19)
Playing experience: Quarterback, Eastern Washington, 1980-83
Coaching experience: 28 years at Eastern Washington (QB/WR coach, 1987-94), Montana State (offensive coordinator, 1995-99), Louisville (WR coach, 2000-02), Michigan State (assistant head coach, 2003-05), Oakland Raiders (QB coach, 2006), Fresno State (offensive coordinator (2007), Alabama (offensive coordinator, 2008-11), Colorado State (head coach, 2012-14)
Coaching honors: Mountain West Coach of the Year (2014)
How he laughs:
Offensive style: McElwain is known mostly for his pro-style offense that was so successful at Alabama, where he developed Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. However, at Colorado State, he has been employing a spread offense, though he did not have his quarterback running the ball much. Nevertheless, Garrett Grayson threw for nearly 3,800 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2014, earning Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year honors.
How he practices:
How he throws a first pitch:
How he refers to his special teams players:
Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (ESPN): “I got a chance to talk to Jeremy Foley this morning, and I know he’s very excited about him. He really believes in him. I know they’ve had great conversations. That’s very comforting as a Florida fan and a Florida supporter. He’s someone who has a great track record. He’s been in big-time games. He’s been in big-time situations. He’s been at a school where there’s a lot of pressure and at Florida you need to know how to handle big games and a lot of pressure because that’s something that comes with being the head coach at the University of Florida. So I think his time at Alabama will help him through that. I think also going to a place like Colorado State and finding a way to win there is something that is important as well because he will be helping rebuild this Florida program. I think there is a lot of talent there, especially defensively, and I think there are some young up-and-coming receivers that are pretty talented. I think really being able to get into recruiting fast is going to be important to start to rebuild but also to handle the pressure that comes with being the head coach at the University of Florida. … What I really like about the offenses that he has run is that they’re versatile. They’re not just one-dimensional. They’re not locked in. They’re not, ‘Hey, we’re a pro-style offense and we’re never going to adjust.’ … I think he’s got a good offensive mind. I think he’s someone that continues to grow. … You always have to have that mindset to be a successful coach.”
Former Alabama QB Greg McElroy (ESPN): “They’re getting about as good a guy as you can possibly find in this business. He’s very honest, he’s very forthright, he’s an incredibly disciplined, he’s an incredibly hard worker. I could not be happier for Jim McElwain. And what Florida is getting is a guy that’s extremely relatable, he commands the room every time he enters it. He’s going to do an incredible job recruiting because when you look at where he’s been in the past … he’s been everywhere. He’s going to be able to bring in that national credibility from a recruiting standpoint when he takes on this Florida Gators head coaching job.”
Radio host Paul Finebaum (ESPN): “I think it’s a home-run hire, and I think Jeremy Foley needed to make one after Will Muschamp’s unfortunate [four] years. And I think he got one. You mention what he did for Nick Saban; he really elevated that program when he went there in 2008. Saban’s first year was .500 and here comes Jim McElwain and Alabama suddenly came alive and played for an SEC Championship in 2008 as the number one team in the country, lost to Tim Tebow and Florida. The next year, reversed that winning the championship game and going on to beat Texas. Even in 2010, Alabama was in the hunt and then in 2011 Alabama won the championship again. McElwain had an unbelievable run at Alabama.”
Former quarterback Brian Griese (ESPN): “I think Jim McElwain is a slam-dunk hire. Let’s put it that way. He can flat-out coach. … From a quarterback’s perspective, I love this hire. It’s one thing to recruit a quarterback. It’s another thing to develop them and teach them how to play the position. I think it’s a lost art, quite frankly, in college football. Jim McElwain is one of those coaches that can be a head coach, can handle all the responsibilities off the field, but will still take control of that quarterback room. He will teach the quarterback how to diagnose defenses, how to make the right decisions, how to avoid turnovers; all of the things that really Florida has not had in a long time, Jim McElwain brings. … Jeremy Foley did not make this hire for 2015; he made this hire for the next five, six, seven, eight years. If you’re a Florida fan, you got to respect that.”
Gators sophomore running back Kelvin Taylor (Twitter): “#GatorNation welcome You coach can’t wait to get things started !!!!”
Former Florida defensive back Jermaine McCollum (Twitter): “Welcome Coach McElwain. You have a lot of work to do. #GoGators”
Former Gators defensive lineman Jack Youngblood (Twitter): “SEC experience is big plus…watch out Saban:))))”
Former Florida QB Tim Tebow (Twitter): “Welcome @CoachMcElwain to #GatorNation !”
Colorado State star quarterback Garrett Grayson (Twitter): “At the end of the day we all need to say thank u. Coach Mac had a dream n we live in a country where dreams become a reality if u work hard. … He helped bring back @CSUFootball to the level it used to be and now it’s OUR job as a community and a university to keep it there! … And for the [Gators] y’all just got one HELL of a coach. I won’t be surprised if y’all are national champs in 2-3 years! Good luck!!”
Colorado State WR Ty Clark (Twitter): “Florida got a great football mind and I honestly believe they will be National champs in the next 3-4 years..”
Former Alabama WR Jared Watson (Twitter): “Florida is about to get really good. REALLY FAST.”
From your permanent SEC Western Division opponent, welcome back to league Coach McElwain. Will enjoy continued great competition w/ Florida.
— Les Miles (@LSUCoachMiles) December 4, 2014