The last two years have shown the Gator nation one thing: the Florida Gators don’t accept failure. Unfortunately for Will Muschamp, “failure” is probably the best word there is to describe his tenure at Florida, and so he was relieved of his duties. The next step was to find a new coach, and after almost two days of negotiations with Colorado State University, Jeremy Foley struck a deal with Jim McElwain, who soon brought his family onto a plane back the Swamp to begin the next era of Florida Football.
As McElwain’s predecessors Zook and Muschamp have learned the hard way, it is imperative to win over the fanbase in order to keep your job. After the dust settled, Coach Mac sat down for an interview with the voice of the Florida Gators, Mick Hubert. After watching the interview, I got butterflies in my stomach because it seems as if Foley hit a homerun with Coach Mac.
On multiple occasions, Coach Mac referenced the fact that he knows the Florida Gator Football team is talented, but the way the talent has been assessed and employed hasn’t been successful. He stated that his approach to coaching the team will incorporate finding the talents of the players and using them to the advantage of the team- something that Muschamp never really did. Whether it was the wrong offensive scheme for the quarterback (John Brantley) or a lack of fit play calling for a certain style running back (Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Kelvin Taylor, and more.) Muschamp and his crew never seemed to get it right. The fact that Mac notices this and has accepted it as an issue gives me hope that there will be a change in coaching philosophies.
Any introductory interview can be laced with empty promises to a fan base, but Hubert brought to light one of Coach Mac’s most valuable (and tested) assets. Hubert mentioned how Coach Mac is familiar with the layout of the SEC. He replied “You don’t really know how to explain it unless you’re actually in it yourself”. During his tenure as the offensive coordinator at Alabama, he coached the Crimson Tide’s offense to two national titles. This shows that Mac not only knows how to play in the SEC, but he knows how to win in it. The effect this has on the Gators may be intangible, but it will definitely show in the success of the team.
Residing in arguably the most talented football state in the nation, Coach Mac mentioned his connections with the recruiting field in Florida. He stated “I was [involved in] recruiting in Florida during my time at Alabama, but I established my connections even before that when I was coaching at Michigan State and Louisville.” With a university stationed so close to the hub of college football recruiting, it is imperative to have a good figurehead at the forefront of our recruiting battle, and Coach Mac knows what he’s doing. With the previous experience he has had recruiting from the state of Florida, he shouldn’t have a problem reeling in some of the nation’s top recruits.
Though most every new coach is met with excitement and high hopes, Jim McElwain seems to be able to hold his own weight. His experience as Alabama’s offensive coordinator has given him crucial experience in the SEC, but his head coaching experience at Colorado State (HC experience that Muschamp lacked) shows that he knows how to take his coaching to the next level and still be successful, as his team is 10-2 in the 2014 season. His previous experience coupled with his recruiting abilities (he’s visiting three highly touted prospects in Tampa today) and his versatility when it comes to coaching to player’s talents gives me high hopes for the future.
And if my hopes for the future are realized, Gator football may be back sooner than we expected.