Amid criticism, Jim McElwain stands up for himself, first two years at Florida

By Adam Silverstein
November 29, 2016
Amid criticism, Jim McElwain stands up for himself, first two years at Florida

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Like most people, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain handles criticism one of two ways: He brushes it off or takes offense and gets defensive.

On Monday, two days after the Gators’ offense looked as hapless as it had been under the previous regime, McElwain took the latter route during his weekly press conference.

Facing questions about criticism over Florida’s lacking offense — not just against Florida State but throughout Year 2 of his tenure — McElwain pointed to the results he’s getting as proof that he is not only doing a good job but exactly what former athletic director Jeremy Foley asked upon hiring him.

“Hey, look. I knew when I took the job this is a fan base that really cares. You’re never going to please them all. I get it,” he began. “One thing I do know is I believe we’re in the SEC Championship again for the second straight year. Maybe not the way people want it, but ultimately, the idea is to figure out how to win a ball game and how to win the East. Now, the next step is how to win the whole SEC.

“That’s part of building it. We’re getting there. We’re getting a lot of really good things going on as far as a commitment to the facilities … that’s for the sustainability of the University of Florida football program and its brand. We’ve been way behind, but we’re catching up. I know that’s one thing that’s making a lot of people nervous around the country. And that’s a good thing.”

It’s fair to say that external nervousness is not readily apparent at this time. McElwain has recruited some talented players since taking over, but he’s lost way more battles than he’s won, especially for some of the top in-state prospects he’s pursued. He is also 4-4 against UF’s annual rivals. The Gators are 2-0 against Georgia and 0-2 against Florida State under McElwain and have split games against LSU (first win since 2012 this season) and Tennessee (first loss since 2004 this season).

McElwain said his goal this week, even more so than other weeks, is to ensure Florida gets the ball to its playmakers — wide receivers junior Brandon Powell, sophomore Antonio Callaway and freshman Tyrie Cleveland — in space as much as possible.

And while he admits “there were some big disappointments and have been already” this season, primarily due to the offense, he attributes at least some of those failures to playcalling, which many Gators fans would certainly agree with.

“We’ve got to do a better job of maintaining the art of deception. We’ve got to continue to do that throughout and not become so predictable, in some cases, of when we retake the field say after play 18 or 19,” he said. “That’s something we’re working on and something we’ll do this week as well.”

McElwain does not look at the 2016 SEC Championship Game as a mismatch between No. 1 Alabama, a team that is arguably head coach Nick Saban’s best (which is saying something) and a 24-point favorite against Florida.

Instead, he sees it as an opportunity, one the Gators are afforded because they are back playing in Atlanta for the second straight year, a fact he was sure to bring up one last time when questioned about the offense again before ending his press conference.

“It obviously is one of those things that you got to constantly evaluate and get better at,” he said. “I was also brought in here to get to Atlanta. How many years have I been here? OK.”


  1. cline says:

    Getting to Atlanta is no small feat regardless of how “down” the east is. How many times did the previous coach get to Atlanta…….

  2. SW FL Joe says:

    I believe he can turn this around but it will take time. He knew our kicking game was abysmal last year and he went and got the best kicker in the country. He also upgraded the coaching staff by hiring Gray. He knows this offense is not where it needs to be and he will make changes. I expect to see multiple assistant coaches shown the door right after the bowl game and upgrades made there as well. Also, we now have an AD that will spend money, so I fully expect to see some form of facility upgrade plan trotted out a few weeks before signing day to create some buzz around the program. New coaches and a promise of facility upgrades should help the poor recruiting.

  3. Tractorr says:

    It may not matter what we want concerning the Mac. It seems like Oregon is interested. Phil Knight says he is willing to spend up to 10 mil a year for the next coach. If Oregon wants him, Mac is gone.

  4. Matt says:

    114th in total offense…still one of the worst offenses in the Nation.. This guy acts like has accomplished something..After the remainder of Muschamp’s defense leaves Florida will be in trouble.

    • Deez says:

      Perfect example of the trash that follows the Gators….. what’s your answer to the problem? Who’s the next coach ? Let’s wait another 4 years. It makes me sick of the fan base that we have. Our fan base is toxic, if I was 18-19 old kid I wouldn’t want to come to UF either to get trashed by all the arm chair coaches and AD.

      • Matt says:

        Your calling me trash for stating the truth…The truth…Let me say it again for you…The Truth…Your doing what Mcelwain did at the FSU post-game press conference, putting words in others mouths. I didn’t say one word about Florida players..Not one word, so if anybody is trash it is you…You don’t do that!!! Your making huge uneducated stereotyped assumptions about me and other fans, because some fans in prior years were spoiled and demanding…I wasn’t, I have never been critic of any Florida Coach, been a fan since I was 8 years old and I am 40..I have never been a critic of any Florida player, never, and never will be…Your out of line with that…So answer the question,.what has he accomplished? Oh, the SEC East, 2x..Ya know Muschamp put those defenses together that made that possible..Keanu Neal, Vernon Hargraves, Jarred Davis, Johnathon Bullard, Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson and many others were recruited by Will Muschamp. You got it..All Mcelwain and to do was find a D. Coordinator and let em play, that’s it..Mcelwain isn’t a defensive coach, so he doesn’t get credit for players that he was given..Mcelwain’s job was what?.It was to improve the offense. Muschamp’s last year, Florida was 93rd in total offense, last year they dropped to 111th..Hint: That’s freakin worse!!! Folks said over the summer that:”well that was Treon Harris’s fault”, see he didn’t give Mcelwain a chance but once he gets his guys in place, guys that he picked, then things will start clicking..Del Rio is the answer because he knows the system. On ya went with your not so sharp observations of football. See your eye isn’t keen, well here we are, and guess what, we have an offense ranked 114th in the nation. That scored only 6 offensive points against FSU, that didn’t convert a third down on 12 attempts…Only 207 yds..In 5 of the last 8 games, Florida has failed to gain 275 yds of offense. That is awful..That is not on the players, that is on the Coaches..They are playing hard..Mcelwain fails to recognize talent, fails to make adjustments, fails to stick with what is working and refuses to go away from what isn’t. Looking at facts and evidence and the truth isn’t being toxic…You are being toxic by trying to hold on to something that isn’t going to work and by being delusional that it is….Mcelwain, despite what he now claims, wasn’t brought in to stumble to Atlanta and get blown out by Bama, he was brought in to improve the offense,the offense has gotten worse, so what has he done? He chased the best player we had in 7 years out of town, he hasn’t done what he was brought here to do, not even close. The offense is worse since he arrived!

        • Marc says:

          I don’t think you know the difference between “truth” and opinion.

          • Matt says:

            Oh really..Explain how statistics on offensive production is an opinion? Its objective data..You can differ in your interpretation of the data but if you come to any other conclusion besides this offense still sucks than I would have to question your judgement..

        • Deez says:

          Cool so you dropped all these stats, but never gave a legit answer who’s going to fix the offense or what new head coach to hire….. shocker arm chair coach. Mustchamp did leave a great defense and excellent players he also had 3 different OC’s while he was there, no depth on offense, no depth on o-line. Oops won the east 2 times. Take a deep breath and relax Matt, See you in Atlanta Go Gators

          • Matt says:

            Who would fix the offense as a head coach? That’s an unrealistic question. There are a lot of variables that go into a Head Coaching hire. Availability, interest, contract terms, etc. That’s the wrong question, the question is what does the guy bring to the table? If he is an outstanding recruiter, great, Defense great but the team should at least show competence in the area that is the coaches specialty. .Steve Spurrier brought the fun and gun, Urban Meyer brought the Spread Attack, Will Muschamp great defense and recruiting. Nick Saban was a DB coach so he works with them a lot. Mcelwain’s deal is QB coach, Offensive coach but the QB’s don’t play well or better and neither does the offense, in fact they are worse. Treon Harris’s got worse under Mcelwain.. I haven’t seen any QB excel under Mcelwain. Grier is the only one who played well but Mcelwain got rid of him..So what is does this guy being to the table? So far a whole lot of nothing..

    • DJ says:

      Accomplished something…? WHAT? You think you could have done better walking in to what he was given? The guy found a way to win games we should have never of won. Give em a break… jeez man…

  5. Matt says:

    Florida even having a winning record is very fortunate considering how bad they continue to perform on Offense. There are 62 teams in college football that have a winning record. Of those teams only Iowa is behind Florida in total offense. Florida averages 352 ypg, Iowa 333 ypg..

    There are 41 teams that average less than 26 points per game. Only 7.3%(3) of those teams have a winning record, the Gators being one of them.

    So when you look at the facts outside of the simple minded mantra of “we won the East” you can see how potentially dire this situation is. Florida has to continue to have a top 10 National Defense, or dramatically improve the offense to win 7-8 games a year. If the defense slips, to a top 30 or 40 defense or worse and the offense is consistent with the last 2 years, Florida will not win even 8 games without incredible fortune, more like 4 to 6 wins.
    Throw in the fact SEC East opponents will likely improve themselves and the Gators lackluater results on the recruiting trail, this is NOT looking good..

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