Since 2012, Florida has won a grand total of 11 games- and one of them was with an interim coach.
Before Jim McElwain can get to work fixing that, though, he had to go through a rite of passage: his first SEC Media Days.
I’ll be honest: there’s not much to gain or lose from or at what amounts to the South’s largest press conference for anybody involved. Many people go up to the podium, say some thing you expect them to say, answer some questions with the same tunnel vision, and then leave.
But while McElwain didn’t say anything particularly eye popping- as expected- he didn’t have to. He stood at that podium a confident, and composed man. Now of course, so did Will Muschamp from 2011-2014 (and we all know how that turned out) but still, it’s nice to see the new guy get off on the right foot rather than the wrong one.
McElwain touched on several things I was looking to see covered in a rather boilerplate way. He mentioned adapting his offense to the personnel he had. He talked again about how the expectations were not pressure, but opportunities. He declined to give Gator fans a win loss total or a number of years before Florida was back (can’t remember which reporter asked that, but all I can say is “nice try”). And most importantly, he acknowledged that the defense would be good in 2015, but made one thing clear: the offense will be counted on to “take some of the heat off the defense.” Translation: finishing outside the top 100 out of 128 FBS teams like Muschamp did isn’t gonna fly.
The best quote of the day came from Brandon Powell, who made no bones about it: “we needed a new energy after a season like last year, and a new coach to provide it.” It’s not a shot at Muschamp, but Powell makes it clear that he wasn’t a good coach by any definition of the term.
Actually, I think McElwain’s decision to bring Powell along was the most telling thing of all. Powell is shifting from running back over to the slot, which is partly due to the lack of a playmaker in the receiving game since Percy Harvin. It was almost a given that McElwain would bring Vernon Hargreaves and Jonathan Bullard as clear leaders of the defense, but selecting Powell as the third player representative over Antonio Morrison, Jalen Tabor, DeMarcus Robinson and Kelvin Taylor came as a surprise to me. The likely reason for the decision (to me) was that McElwain is counting on Powell to step up big time this year, both as a playmaker and a leader on the team, and bringing him along to Hoover was a way of showing that to him.
So, that was pretty much it for Media Days. I know it’s kind of a mean tease that football is just around the corner, and a quick look at the calendar makes you go, “awwwww dammit, two more months to go?” But it’s another stepping stone closer towards the real thing- actual, live college football.
And putting all these words into action.