JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Poor taste.
As day comes and night falls Sunday, talking heads and twiddling thumbs will rattle off reasons for Jim McElwain’s expected at Florida.
Poor taste, in my opinion, did him in.
And he saved the worst taste for last. Georgia’s 35-point win Saturday was its biggest victory over the Gators in 35 years.
“Those eggs didn’t taste real good,” McElwain said afterward, referring to his pregame meal.
It wasn’t the breakfast of champions.
Over the past six days, Florida administrators, coaches, players and their families had to chew on death threats, buyout rumors and noise in the system. And despite an embarrassing loss for the program and a trying week, McElwain was all smiles walking off the field Saturday.
“I’ve never been about good looks,” McElwain said when asked to explain his postgame demeanor. “So I apologize for that, I guess.”
On the surface, it appears McElwain’s tenure fell apart in a matter of days because he misspoke at his Monday news conference. It’s much bigger than that — but his regrettable remarks highlighted the larger, underlying issue.
The bottom line is that McElwain didn’t win enough games or improve the offense, and Gator Nation is no longer buying what he’s selling.
“I know what I was brought here to do,” McElwain said.
It’s a shame that things went south so fast for McElwain. His values, vision and track record made him qualified for the Florida job, but his mannerisms, personality and pride never meshed with fans, media or his bosses.
Think about all the times he left those people with a bad taste in their mouth.
His Claire-a-bell comment.
His Kelvin Taylor episode.
His handling of Will Grier.
His discipline of Antonio Callaway.
His alliance to Doug Nussmeier.
His public shots at Jeremy Foley and Scott Stricklin.
His response to the shark photo.
His somber hurricane news conference.
His death-threat debacle.
Whether you agree with his actions above or not, there’s no denying that each incident alienated his supporters and gave ammunition to his detractors. Should they outweigh the positive impact he’s had on the Gators football program?
Urban Meyer rubbed people the wrong way at Florida and still got a raise every year. He also won four championships with a lot of points.
“Look, we haven’t been good on offense. I get it,” McElwain said. “We’ve won a few games, but we haven’t won enough, haven’t won a championship. That’s real. That’s life.”
It’s the life that McElwain chased for years and finally landed with his Florida gig. He called it a dream job Saturday, even though it has turned into a nightmare for him.
“It’s a great place. It’s great fans. Great support. The resource is there to win,” McElwain said. “Obviously I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to deliver in the time I’ve been here.”
Remember, McElwain paid $2 million of his own money to be at UF as part of the largest school-to-school buyout ever. His death-threat comment may cost him more millions.
But after the Georgia game, McElwain didn’t look like a dead man walking as he exited the field with his wife. He seemed happy, relieved and resigned — poor taste or not.
“Well, she told me to keep my chin up,” McElwain said. “And that’s something my Dad used to tell me: It doesn’t do you any good to hang your head.”