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Jim McElwain's time with Florida Gators seems to be nearing an end

MONICA HERNDON | Times

29

October

Jim McElwain's time as the Florida Gators' football coach appears to be nearing an end.

Football Scoop reported Sunday afternoon that McElwain and UF are parting ways. I'm told nothing is official yet, and that nothing has been decided about his future.

Even players (like receiver Josh Hammond and quarterback Luke Del Rio) are confused about what's going on.

McElwain is the first head coach in SEC history to make it to the league title game in each of his first two seasons, but his Gators couldn't win the biggest games. His 22-12 record includes two double-digit defeats in the SEC title game, two lopsided losses to rival Florida State and Saturday's 42-7 embarrassment to Georgia in Jacksonville.

UF hired McElwain from Colorado State to replace Will Muschamp after the 2014 season. The Gators thought they had a sharp offensive mind who could bring back the fun and wins in Gainesville.

McElwain didn't do the first part, and he didn't do enough of the second.

"We've won a few games, but we haven't won enough, haven't won a championship," That's real. That's life. That is this business, and I take full responsibility for all of it.

McElwain went 10-4 and won the SEC East in his first season. He took the Gators back to the SEC title game in 2016, too, thanks to a goal-line stand at LSU that ranks among the biggest in program history. UF capped off its 9-4 year with a 27-point thrashing of Iowa in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. He earned raises and contract extensions after both years, including one from his new athletic director, Scott Stricklin.

But cracks were already showing.

McElwain started pushing for facilities upgrades not long after he arrived in Gainesville. It paid off - the indoor practice facility opened before his first season, and construction on a stand-alone football complex could begin after this season.

Although the upgrades were overdue, not everyone appreciated the way McElwain publicly and repeatedly questioned his bosses' support, including after the Outback Bowl win in Tampa. Fans soured as the offense failed to improve.

"I know what I was brought here to do," McElwain said Saturday. "Look, we haven't been good on offense. I get it."

Things began to turn worse before the Gators' worst loss to Georgia since 1982. McElwain said at Monday's weekly news conference that people affiliated with his program had received death threats. He wouldn't elaborate on the threats publicly, or privately with his administration. The University Athletic Association issued a statement, which pointed out that he provided no additional information about the serious matter.

Two days later, McElwain said he regretted sharing the threats publicly. But the damage was already done.

McElwain's program had other off-field problems, too. Most notably, nine players - including standout receiver Antonio Callaway and starting running back Jordan Scarlett - were suspended for their alleged involvement in a credit card fraud scandal.

Among the names you'll hear discussed as possible replacements, if/when this move becomes official: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, UCF coach Scott Frost, Memphis coach Mike Norvell and Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente.

USF coach Charlie Strong's name will also be mentioned. He had four previous stops with the Gators, but expect UF to go with another offensive-minded coach to fix what McElwain never could.

Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Sunday, October 29, 2017 2:07pm]

    

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