I’ll preface by saying that Jim McElwain might end up being a rock star coach of epic proportions at Florida. And if that happens, please read this back to me in five years and I’ll gladly devour crow sandwich. But you mean to tell me that for the 4th consecutive time, UF can’t hire a football coach with even one measly line on his resume as a head coach at a big-time, power conference program? Not ONE? Count ‘em folks – Ron Zook had zero… Urban Meyer – zilch (Utah was pre Pac-12 at the time)… Will Muschamp? Nada. And now McElwain – a goose egg. Zook and Muschamp had high profile assistant gigs prior, but as we’ve seen, great lieutenants don’t always morph into great generals. So this type of hire becomes a crap shoot. One of the last three times, the dice have rolled right for the Gators, with Urban Meyer bringing two national championships and a Heisman winner. But with so much pressure on Athletic Director Jeremy Foley and his staff to reel in a bona fide, can’t-miss catch RIGHT NOW, they bring in a guy whose head coaching experience is three years at Colorado State with one 10-win season. McElwain’s claim to fame is that he was Alabama’s Offensive Coordinator from 2008-2011… a position elementary enough that it’s making Lane Kiffin look like a genius this year. So why aren’t one of four guys who are coaching this weekend (in rivalry or conference championship games) coming to Florida? TCU’s Gary Patterson, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, or the perfect puzzle piece, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. Stoops is a perfectly seasoned 54-year-old, ready for a career re-boot following a decade and a half, a national title, and a Heisman winner in Sooner-ville. He knows Gainesville, having been an assistant under Steve Spurrier in the 1990s. In any of those head coaches, Foley would have gotten a proven entity at the big-time level. So why aren’t any of them coming? Did Florida not want to wait any longer for fear that the recruiting train would have left town by the time one of those four arrived, after their respective seasons ended? Were they pursued aggressively enough? If not, why? If they were pursued hard and none were interested, what does that say about Florida? It certainly doesn’t imply a thin bank roll. The Gators are paying roughly as steep a buyout to Colorado State as they would have had to pay any of those other schools. So what else? Is it the outdated practice facilities at UF? Is it the administration? Whatever the reason, I thought UF had reached a point on the dire-meter that this was the hire they couldn’t gamble on. But with Jim McElwain, they are gambling…again.
Tom James is a 2-time Edward R. Murrow Award-winning sportscaster, who does play-by-play & studio work for the ESPN Family of Networks (including ESPN Wide World of Sports, ESPN3, college football, basketball, & a wide array of other sports), CBS Sports Network, Lax Sports Network, & Pro Watercross. Tom also hosts and produces sports documentaries & is part of the weekly regionally syndicated college football radio show, "Southern Pigskin Tonight."