GAINESVILLE, Fla. — During his news conference Wednesday evening, Florida coach Jim McElwain was recalling some of the mentors who helped shape his coaching philosophy through his various stops along the way.
As a follow-up, he was then asked if Alabama coach Nick Saban had ever chewed him out during his time as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator from 2008-11.
“From Coach Saban? All the time, man, it was awesome,” McElwain said, drawing laughs from the room.
McElwain usually tries to keep his media sessions light-hearted and humorous, so he indulged the Saban question for a little bit.
“You know, I don’t know, maybe he just knew I was so whacked out anyway, I don’t know, it really wouldn’t matter,” he said. “I will tell you this, having guys, I mentioned Coach Zornes (former Eastern Washington head coach), a guy by the name of Cliff Hysell (former Montana State head coach), these are no-names for you guys, but growing up with my dad, that kind of stuff, I thought that was normal.”
McElwain shared a funny anecdote from when he had Steve Spurrier come talk to the team in the spring and Spurrier observed the conditions of the team room.
“I kind of laugh, when I had Coach Spurrier last spring come speak to the team, he walked into the team room and he says, ‘Yep. Nothing’s changed around here.’ … I thought, huh, that’s a telling sign,” McElwain quipped.
In general, though, he said he was pleased with the upgrades Florida has already made — such as opening the indoor practice facility last year — and the direction the program is heading from a facilities standpoint.
He has also mentioned before his desire to build a stand-alone football complex for offices, team meeting rooms, etc., though no such plans have been announced.
“Yeah, the vision for the future is what’s really exciting and obviously what we’ve done already in this short time facility-wise is (encouraging), and just seeing some of the former Gators that come back (and their reactions),” McElwain said. “… Seeing the stuff that we’re doing and the way we’re heading forward is really exciting for us, and the new things that I think are on the horizon here, I’m pretty fired up over it.”
Defending The Swamp
Florida has its third straight home game Saturday night before heading on the road the next couple weeks, and McElwain has not missed an opportunity to thank the fans for the environment they’ve created so far at The Swamp this season.
He said Wednesday he wants his players to really understand how special it is to play there.
“This is such an unbelievable place for a football game, and it’s a place that it doesn’t matter where you’re at in the country, people know about The Swamp,” he said. “I look at it more so, it’s not a right, but more so a privilege to be able to play in The Swamp and be able to be part of that history of what a great place it is. There again, (it’s about) our guys understanding the importance of taking care of this place like so many teams have before them. That’s really to me what it’s all about.”