Florida, McElwain Agree to Part Ways

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The paperwork for Jim McElwain's departure hadn't even been completed when Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin announced a motto for his coaching search: He wants the Gators to be fun again.

That surely starts with an improved offense.

The school and McElwain, a former quarterback and assistant coach at Eastern Washington, agreed to part ways Sunday, a day after a third consecutive loss and nearly a week after McElwain said his players and their families had received death threats.

Stricklin named defensive coordinator Randy Shannon the team's interim coach for the final four games.


Stricklin said the sides reached an agreement in principle to settle McElwain's $12.5 million buyout, but he declined to reveal details until the deal is signed.

"This is more than just wins and losses," Stricklin said. "I'll just leave it at that."

Florida (3-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference), which is still paying former coach Will Muschamp, hoped to significantly reduce McElwain's sum and likely used his actions over the last week as leverage.

Regardless, McElwain's tenure will be remembered for failing to fix a floundering offense. Three years ago, McElwain proclaimed he could win with his dog at quarterback. The Gators currently rank 113th in total offense, in triple digits nationally for the third time in McElwain's three seasons.

"When Florida has been really good, from a distance, it has looked really fun and I want it to be really fun," Stricklin said. "Our fans, they deserve it to be really fun. I want our players and student-athletes to have a lot of fun, like this is a rewarding experience to come here and get a degree from a top-10 public university and to play at one of the storied football programs in the country."

McElwain went 22-12 with the Gators, including 4-9 against ranked teams, and became the first coach in league history to take a team to the SEC championship game in his first two years. Florida was eliminated from contention in the Eastern Division with a 42-7 loss to rival Georgia on Saturday. It was Florida's most lopsided loss in the series since 1982.

McElwain's downfall was more about relationships than records.

His already-strained rapport with administrators reached a new low last Monday when he mentioned the death threats. The bombshell shocked Stricklin, who had not been notified about a potentially harmful situation.

Stricklin met with McElwain later that day, and the coach rebuffed a request to provide more information about the threats.

The school's position was this: If there were death threats and administrators did nothing about them, the Gators would be legally liable if something horrible happened. If McElwain exaggerated the threats or made them up altogether, then he essentially sullied an entire fan base without merit.

The former Alabama assistant and Colorado State head coach complained publicly about Florida's facilities shortly after taking the job and openly questioned the school's commitment to the football program two years later.


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