Jim McElwain Fired



After struggling again this season, Florida fired head football coach Jim McElwain

By Jack Woodard, Staff Writer

The news came out early Sunday morning and confirmed what most college football fans anticipated, Florida fired head coach Jim McElwain.  The decision came after an embarrassing 42-7 loss to rival Georgia.  Florida’s record dropped to 3-4 after their third straight loss and fans are not happy as this is a team that is usually in the running to win the SEC.  

Jim McElwain became the Gators’ head coach in 2015 and fans were excited for the new era.  After Will Muschamp, the Gators fans wanted someone that was going to restore the glory to Florida and McElwain was on his way to doing that in his first season as coach.  Led by their freshman quarterback, Will Grier, the Gators got off to a 6-0 start including a come from behind win against Tennessee and an upset over Ole Miss.  This was when the bad news came: Will Grier was suspended for the rest of the year due to illegal use of PED’s.  This shocked Gators fans and meant that sophomore Treon Harris would take over.  He had some experience previously, but did not look quite as good as Grier.  Florida then lost to LSU and that was the start of the offensive horror show.  The Gators had to rely on their defense to win games against South Carolina 24-14, Vanderbilt 9-7, and against a much lesser Florida Atlantic opponent 20-14 in overtime.  The offense was becoming frustrating to watch but fans were optimistic and thought it to be a minor issue.  The Gators went into the last game 10-1 and got trounced by Florida State 27-2 with the offense once again not showing up.  Florida made it to the SEC Conference game and lost to Alabama 29-15 and then got destroyed by Michigan in the Citrus Bowl,  41-7.  In total the Gators were outscored 97-24.  

Fans were more optimistic for the next year with Luke Del Rio running the show at quarterback and the Gators started out 3-0 before Del Rio got sidelined for the season with a shoulder injury.  Graduate transfer Austin Appleby was now the quarterback and the Gators offense looked slow once again.  The 11 game win streak against Tennessee ended and the offense looked bad, even in wins.  The Gators seemed that they needed to hold their opponents to less than 14 points to win a game (they won games 13-6 against Vanderbilt, 20-7 against South Carolina, 16-10 against LSU, and others).  The Gators found themselves in the conference championship game once again despite getting blown out by Florida State in the last game of the season.  Florida also lost 54-16 to Alabama.  This was another embarrassing offensive performance and this time the defense could not bail them out.  The Gators ended the season on a high-note winning the Outback Bowl against Iowa.

Going into the season, questions about McElwain’s job security started to surface and fans had enough of theses horrible offensive performance.  This year was destined to be different as Florida had 3 options at quarterback with Luke Del Rio returning, redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, and graduate transfer Malik Zaire.  Franks started the season opener against Michigan and was relieved by Zaire after a horrid performance.  Zaire didn’t do much better.  The Gators lost 33-17 and their two touchdowns were both from the defense.  Fans were livid and were ready for the same old story after three years.  The offense struggled in a 26-20 win against Tennessee (a game that Florida led 6-3 in the fourth quarter) and the Gators won on a last second hail mary from Franks.  Coach Mac hoped this would boost his confidence, but he was wrong.  The offense struggled against Kentucky and Luke Del Rio had to come in to give the Gators a come from behind 28-27 win.  Del Rio was named the starter and the next game against Vanderbilt he went down in the first half, grabbing his shoulder.  The Gators won but news came that once again Del Rio would be out for the season.  In these past 3 games, Franks has had to take over and has just looked flustered.  The Gators lost 17-16 to LSU, 19-17 against Texas A&M, and 42-7 against Georgia.  The next day McElwain was fired.

When McElwain was found to be making up death threats that he was allegedly receiving, it seemed to be the tipping point.  He was fired and defensive coordinator Randy Shannon took over as interim head coach.  McElwain seemed to have accomplished nothing on offense in his time at Florida and he was supposed to be an offensive guru and an expert at building quarterbacks (the worst position for the Gators in his time there).  The only reason the Gators won the SEC East those two years was because their defense kept them in low-scoring games and the East has been the worst we have ever seen recently.  Fans can only look towards next season to hope that they don’t see the same story as they have in the past 5 years.  

“The offense was just absolutely horrible with Jim McElwain as coach and it was the same exact story as with Muschamp: bad O, good D.  It was frustrating to watch and embarrassing as a fan. Hopefully when we get a new coach, we can figure this out,” said Sophomore Gators fan Max Trachtenberg.

There have been many names thrown around for the open spot as the Gators head coach, but one thing is certain, the fans expect to win in Gainesville and if you can’t bring that, then you’re in trouble.