Readers’ Choice: Jim McElwain’s infrastructure rebuild starts with filling out Florida Gators staff

For five days from March 5-9, OnlyGators.com has handed a guest editor role over to you, the loyal reader. This is the third in five Readers’ Choice posts covering topics you want to know more about concerning the Florida Gators athletics program.

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Updated on March 10 at 1:30 p.m.

Among other buzz words Florida head coach Jim McElwain has thrown out when speaking about the task that lies ahead of him to rebuild the Gators football program, improving the “infrastructure” has been at the top of the list.

Most think of the term “infrastructure” as relating to physical facilities, and in that regard, Florida is already taking steps forward by spending $15 million on an indoor practice facility set to open in September, making plans to improve the locker room and training area, redesigning and increasing the space and flow of the football offices, and looking at how to improve the athletic dorms.

But to McElwain, “infrastructure” also includes the Gators’ top-to-bottom organization from assistant coaches and operations directors to quality control coaches and staff assistants.

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McElwain: pleased with Gators, gave players assignments, confident in hiring receivers coach

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain sat down with the media on Wednesday for the first time since his introductory press conference nearly a month ago.

The 40-minute back-and-forth saw McElwain touched on a number of topics that will be broken down here on OnlyGators.com over the next couple of days.

Though McElwain was surprisingly close to the vest on a number of issues, which are outlined below, he also discussed at length his initial thoughts on the Gators football team and plan for hiring a wide receivers coach, the last open position on his coaching staff.

SO FAR, SO GOOD

McElwain plans to make a number of organizational changes over the next 18 months but some of the first evaluations he was able to make were on the team. As a bystander during practices leading up to the 2015 Birmingham Bowl – and during the game itself, of course – McElwain was pleased to see a group of young men giving top-notch effort despite all of the circumstances surrounding the situation.

“Man, I just love the way our team played in that bowl game,” he said to open his press conference. “[I appreciated] the guys that held that thing together. The character in which they played with, the energy they played with, they made plays when they needed against a very, very good football team. …

“Just to see the competitive nature was great. Having an opportunity to get out in the parking lot before the game, I didn’t know it was like that. there’s some good people out there, man, that was awesome. I really enjoyed that. I was really proud of our guys.”

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Odds and ends on Florida’s Jim McElwain hire

The process of transforming Colorado State’s Jim McElwain from a top candidate to the next head football coach of the Florida Gators was long and involved, likely longer and more involved than originally expected with plenty of twists and turns occurring throughout. OnlyGators.com is here to break a lot of it down.

THE BUYOUT

Colorado State will tell you, which it did in what is likely the first-ever press release ever sent about a buyout, that while it ultimately compromised with Florida, the program still received 93.3 percent of the $7.5 million buyout attached to McElwain’s contract. And that will, years from now, be true. It is also true that the $7 million that will come the way of the Rams will eclipse the $4.3 million Texas paid Louisville to snag Charlie Strong.

What Colorado State chooses not to mention in its braggadocios press release – titled “Colorado State University receives largest-ever buyout as Jim McElwain goes to University of Florida” – is that it did indeed compromise, a lot more than the school wanted to initially.

In the end, the Gators actually worked out a pretty sweet deal (for a $7 million buyout), especially considering the original $7.5 million buyout was due as a lump sum 30 days after the contract was ended. Let’s take a look at how Florida and athletic director Jeremy Foley turned a lump-sum $7.5 million buyout into $4 million paid out over six years.

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, November 20: Gators coaching search candidates, mailbag

Florida Gators coaching search

Ah, a coaching search. So much fun. Such little stress. Not taxing whatsoever on my time, energy or sleep patterns, which are already way too out-of-whack. The simple fact is that this will likely be a long and tedious search and no one will experience that as much first-hand as athletic director Jeremy Foley, who not only has to go through the entire process but is also tasked with making the all-important decision.

As this process unfolds, you are going to see such a wide variety of lists and reports posted by different media outlets that your head may spin. My hope with the candidate list that OnlyGators.com posted on Sunday was that you would understand it to be a pros-and-cons breakdown of some of the most talked-about names for the job that also provided you with a comprehensive list of names that could fit what the Gators are looking for in their next coach.

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10/13: Muschamp says Gators will play two quarterbacks – Driskel and Harris – on Saturday

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-2 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team continues to recover from its latest loss while preparing for the Missouri Tigers (4-2, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday evening. Florida will host Mizzou at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida; kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the agme will air live nationally on ESPN2.

INTRODUCING THE TWO-QUARTERBACK SYSTEM

In what was likely to be the original plan last week against LSU, Muschamp confirmed Monday that Florida will employ a two-quarterback system this week against Missouri with redshirt junior Jeff Driskel likely to take the first snaps in the contest.

“They both will play this week. We’ll work through the week and see how things go. We’ll see how it goes there,” he said. “Right now, Jeff would probably start, but they’re both going to play.”

Driskel, who learned of his demotion to part-time player when Muschamp made the announcement, said he has no qualms with the decision because he knows he needs to pick up his play going forward. Freshman Treon Harris, of course, will be the other signal caller taking reps with Driskel.

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Eastern Michigan

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 84°F (feels like 92°F), scattered t-storms (chance of rain: 40 percent)
Time: 4:00 p.m. EDT

TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart, Matt Stinchcomb, Heather Mitts)

Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS E. MICHIGAN EAGLES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Chris Creighton
Record: 0-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mid-American

Odds: Florida -40.5 | O/U 55.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Notebook: Muschamp reinstates suspended players reinstated, more Florida starters named ahead of new opener | Notebook: Kurt Roper, Jeff Driskel believe in Demarcus Robinson | Notebook: Muschamp goes off on those criticizing his discipline |
Notebook: LB Michael Taylor, DE Dante Fowler ready to lead…and hit hard |
Interview: Heather Mitts returns to Gainesville

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Idaho Vandals

BREAKING: Three Florida Gators have been suspended for the season-opener. More information below under Injuries/Absences.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 86°F (feels like 93°F), mostly cloudy (chance of rain: 10 percent)
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Kelly Stouffer, Niki Noto)

Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 108/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS IDAHO VANDALS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Paul Petrino
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt

Odds: Florida -37 | O/U 50.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Breakdown: First fall depth chart | Notebook: Muschamp evaluates team, previews first game | Story: Treon Harris named backup quarterback | Notebook: Kurt Roper addresses hot topics, D.J. Durkin evaluates unit | Special: 54 Florida football facts, stats and tidbits | Friday Final: Running backs primed to break out

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Florida football preview: 54 facts, stats and tidbits

In an attempt to preview the 108th season of Florida Gators football, OnlyGators.com decided to find 108 interesting facts, important statistics and relevant historical tidbits about the team. The process proved to be more daunting than initially expected.

Below you will find 54 different notes to prime you for the 2014 campaign, which kicks off against the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, Aug. 30 live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, at 7 p.m.

1. Florida finished 2013 with a 4-8 record, putting together its first losing season since it went winless (0-10-1) in 1979. UF rebounded to finish 8-4 in 1980, setting an NCAA record for best turnaround in major college football history at the time. The Gators were also the first team ever to play in a bowl game after failing to win a game the season prior.

2. Will Muschamp (43) is the second-youngest coach in the SEC behind Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (42).

3. Muschamp’s 22-16 record through three seasons (2011-13) is the worst for a Florida head coach in that span since Charley Pell went 15-19-1 from 1979-81.

4. Kurt Roper is Muschamp’s third offensive coordinator in four seasons and UF’s fifth in the last seven years, while Mike Summers is Muschamp’s third offensive line coach in four seasons.

5…starters played in all 12 games for Florida in 2013.

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