GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida had some big names at Wednesday’s practice, but one visitor in particular drew the delight of Gators coach Jim McElwain.
College football legend Steve Spurrier watched his former team and caught up with McElwain, who he has developed a relationship with over the past year.
“I can’t tell you how great it is to just to see former Gators come back,” said McElwain, who had several ex-players attend Florida’s Pro Day this week. “Obviously, having arguably one of the best ever in coach Spurrier to come out there and see his former team, that’s pretty special having that guy around. I’m glad his accountant is here, gave him a reason to be in town.”
McElwain and Spurrier shared a plane ride to Bristol, Conn., last July for ESPN’s car wash. Following Spurrier’s retirement, McElwain said he looked forward to having him back at Florida to pick his brain.
“Had a chance to visit with him,” McElwain said. “He let me know that he was going to be coming through and I love to have him at practice, obviously. Sitting down, it’s always great to talk to him. The guy meant so much to this program obviously, not only as a player but what he did as a coach.”
Spurrier, an offensive innovator who won the 1966 Heisman Trophy and coached UF to its first national championship 30 years later, gave McElwain his two cents about the current Gators quarterbacks.
“He was excited to see we had some,” McElwain said. “They threw the ball well, he said. He gave me a little, good little critique about throwing the corner balls when we’re down in the low red (zone). It’s something that we’ve definitely talked about in the staff meetings. It makes a lot of sense. Like I said, having that guy there, that’s pretty neat.”
Spurrier stepped down as South Carolina’s coach at midseason last year. He finished his career as the all-time winningest coach for the Gators and Gamecocks. McElwain weighed in on what made him so successful.
“I think his knowledge, his memory and just knowing exactly (what to do),” McElwain said. “This guy and his wit, man, it’s awesome. I just, what a great resource. And obviously what he’s done and what he did building here is something that every Gator should be really excited about.”