Jim McElwain has been something of a college football lifer. He has spent the majority of his 21-year coaching career in the college game — 12 years — with schools currently in power five conferences. There was that one year he coached for the Oakland Raiders, though.
That year was missing something that makes college football special, according to McElwain, and it’s something that he certainly experienced firsthand in his first year with the Florida Gators.
What makes college football special, McElwain said during a Facebook live chat with Sports Illustrated, is the rivalries, according to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports.
“The one thing I love about college football, and you missed a little bit when I coached in pro football, was those gameday rivalries on Saturdays,” McElwain told Sports Illustrated.
“And the one thing about a place like the University of Florida, you don’t just have one, you don’t just have two, you don’t just have three. There’s a lot of people gunning for you.”
It is definitely a new experience for McElwain to be a head coach when every game has some special meaning and history attached to it. He described the special feeling of going over the bridge in Jacksonville to get to EverBank Field for the Florida-Georgia game and the intensity of playing Tennessee each year.
Not to mention having to play Florida State every year for state supremacy. And McElwain has a game against Miami to look forward to in 2019.
The rivalries do not stop. Neither does the pressure. And neither does the fun that makes college football so special for fans, players and coaches.