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Florida coach Jim McElwain made national headlines Monday when he claimed that people within or connected to his program have received death threats.
He did not offer any details to either reporters or University Athletic Association officials when pressed on the matter. As such, nobody really knows what happened or to whom, and some have taken the lack of details as an opening to question the validity of the claim.
What is clear is there is presently a lot of negativity within the fan base surrounding this football program, McElwain and the direction his Gators are going.
That prompted one national college football writer to speculate that McElwain could choose to pursue the open head coaching position at Oregon State and leave on his terms. For what it’s worth, McElwain dismissed that notion Monday.
And in the latest Gators Mailbag Question of the Day, we look at why that move seemed unlikely in the first place.
David C. asks … “Do you think all this external pressure will push Mac out on his own?
No, for several reasons.
First, McElwain is a competitive guy in a dream job he worked his whole career to secure. Leaving Florida after three seasons to take a lower-profile position would be admitting he couldn’t cut it in the SEC, and no matter what fans may think, McElwain doesn’t see it that way.
He has security with a contract through the 2022 football season that pays him a base salary of $4,486,000 plus bonuses. Oregon State coach Gary Andersen was making about $2.5 million when he stepped down earlier this season. While that particular job is just one example, programs on that tier aren’t going to pay SEC money, and McElwain wouldn’t volunteer for a pay cut.
Those are the practical and logical reasons against the notion of him bolting for a less stressful situation, but the most obvious one involves what he sees in the Gators’ future.
Just as he has stuck by maligned offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, disagreeing with many fans’ assertions that the play caller is holding back the offense, McElwain doesn’t feel his program is as far off course as others think. Despite the noise and vitriol, he believes in what he’s building.
This season has been a setback, no doubt. Short of an upset over Georgia this week and a strong finish thereafter, this year will be viewed as a significant disappointment.
But in the meanwhile, McElwain has a 2018 recruiting class that currently ranks sixth nationally (according to the 247Sports composite) and a 2019 class of commits ranked first.
He still has to keep those prospects on board, get them signed and get them to campus, but if he can, then he will have officially turned the corner in recruiting while providing a tangible reason to think better times are ahead.
That’s why he won’t be going to Oregon State or anywhere else as long as it’s his choice. Not when he feels the solution to the Gators’ issues are within his grasp.
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