A month in the past, I broke some information to Jim McElwain.
The Florida coach was in his joyful-go-fortunate temper that Wednesday morning. The Gators had been contemporary off an exciting 28-27 victory at Kentucky, which came in typical McElwain fashion. The Wildcats forgot to cowl a Florida receiver and the Gators scored the go-forward landing to drag out one other miracle victory.
That win meant that McElwain improved to 9- in one-possession video games at Florida. I used to be in listening to his ideas on his workforce’s skill to one way or the other all the time discover a technique to prevail, so I shared that stat with him.
“9-. Wow,” McElwain stated that day. “Let’s simply maintain it at one. How’s that?”
McElwain didn’t maintain it at one. As a substitute, his workforce misplaced two straight video games by one possession in The Swamp.
That dropping streak continued Saturday when his workforce was demolished 42-7 by Georgia. Whereas all of that stress mounted, McElwain came out and stated that he had acquired demise threats, solely to later again off these statements.
That, finally, was what allowed Florida to end the McElwain era on Sunday.
However even a month in the past, McElwain appeared to see the writing on the wall. He knew that his workforce had caught loads of breaks in his three seasons in Gainesville. He knew that these two division titles had been hole and that he had been holding on by a thread. His workforce might’ve simply been 7-6 every of the previous two years.
This 12 months, McElwain’s workforce shall be fortunate to get to 7 wins. And as destiny would have it, his luck ran out earlier than he might even make that occur.
Whereas McElwain’s supporters continued to level at the positives — Florida was 19-Eight with a 13-5 file in SEC play coming into 2017 — the negatives piled up in a rush.
At a spot like Florida, it’s by no means been OK to outlive and advance. Steve Spurrier and City Meyer are the usual, whether or not McElwain needed to confess it or not. Whoever replaces him will know that as quickly as they stroll in the door.
That was all the time the issue with McElwain. On the sector, he might by no means come near that bar.
At Florida, he realized that operating an offense was a bit harder than it was at Alabama, the place he had the likes of Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram at hand the ball off to and Julio Jones to throw the ball to. It’s lots simpler to be labeled a guru when you will have Heisman Trophy winners and high-5 draft picks to work with.
McElwain by no means acquired a really feel for his personnel at Florida. He might recruit, however similar to Will Muschamp earlier than him, he couldn’t acknowledge which guys to maintain and which guys to do away with.
The Will Grier choice will all the time hang-out McElwain. The truth that his workforce needed to scratch and claw simply to get to 17-12 after Grier performed his final snap at Florida stated lots about McElwain’s offensive struggles. Grier’s profession revival at West Virginia solely added to the ammo towards McElwain.
Absolutely Saturday did, as properly. Right here was Georgia in its second 12 months of the Kirby Good period with a real freshman quarterback, and the Gators by no means had an opportunity. They had been embarrassed in each means. The offense that McElwain promised can be rather more thrilling in 2017 was simply extra excruciating. It took two elite defenses — Michigan and Georgia — to indicate simply how terrible it was.
That’s the hardest factor for Florida followers to swallow. Certain, the bank card fraud suspensions and the opposite off-the-subject stuff introduced unfavorable consideration to the college, however McElwain failed to perform what he got down to do. The Gators didn't escape the id that that they had below Muschamp. They didn’t become the excessive-powered offense many anticipated to see when McElwain came from Colorado State.
Saturday simply served because the reminder of all of that.
In a single month, McElwain confirmed all the doubts. He couldn’t presumably maintain that tempo in one-possession video games. He couldn’t deal with the stress that came with coming wanting expectations at a spot like Florida. That’s why he sought sympathy with the demise menace feedback. And on Saturday, it was evident that he couldn’t get Florida to the extent it felt it belonged on.
McElwain’s tenure in Gainesville will go down as one of many more odd ones that we’ve seen at any Energy 5 program in current reminiscence. He received two division titles and took the Gators locations they hadn’t been since Meyer. McElwain didn’t have a Hugh Freeze scandal at Ole Miss, nor did he depart for greener pastures like Lane Kiffin. However he did the one factor he couldn’t afford to do — he gave his bosses an opportunity to chop bait.
For 2 and a half years, McElwain gave Florida a curler coaster. The wins had been wild, the losses had been devastating and all the things in between was weird.
On Sunday, the experience came to a screeching halt in completely becoming fashion.