GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Now the highest paid coach in the SEC East, Florida’s Jim McElwain still reflects on his Eastern Washington days 30 years ago.
UF announced Friday that McElwain received a $750,000 annual raise after leading the Gators to a 10-win season last year, when they captured their first division championship since 2009.
McElwain’s salary at his first coaching job isn’t even a fraction of his raise amount from Florida. Eastern Washington hired him in 1987 after working two years with the program as a graduate assistant.
“$4,723 a year,” McElwain said. “Still have the contract. Coached quarterbacks and receivers, taught classes, tended a bar, worked at J.C. Penney’s. So I’ve come a ways.”
Florida’s second-year coach now makes $4.25 million annually, which is still hard for him to believe sometimes.
“It’s something you don’t really think about either. You go about doing your job to the best of your abilities,” McElwain said. “I’ve said before there’s times I just even walk out to practice and it’s hard for me to sometimes imagine I’m at the University of Florida.”
McElwain reiterated Monday that his raise indicates where the Gators football program is headed.
“It’s so good to know that your university and your administration believes in the direction that we’re taking this thing,” McElwain said. “It’s something that sends a message in recruiting. Just the belief in our organization and where we’re going. We got a ways to go now, but I’m happy.”