Florida AD Stricklin is right, “It’s about more than football”


Carlos Peterson, Sports Editor

The University of Florida is a place that athletic success is no stranger to, in fact it has a permanent residence in the athletic department there in Gainesville. However, as of pretty recently their cash cow, the football program, has become devoid of that success that they are so accustomed to having. With the likes of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer leading the charge in the past 30 years, winning a combined 3 national titles and 8 SEC titles, it’s easy to see why the fan base’s frustration is growing with each year post Meyer. The forcing out of now former Florida Head Coach Jim McElwain runs a little deeper than wins and losses.

At the end of the 2014 season Jim McElwain was brought in as Head Coach to resurrect a stagnant Florida offense that had ranked in the hundreds of offensive rankings of college football ever since Urban Meyer left. Being coined the quarterback whisperer, McElwain had brought back Colorado State from the college football graveyard as well as winning two national championships as the offensive coordinator at Alabama. It was easy to be optimistic as a Gator fan, to finally have the offensive football that the Gators had become accustomed created a collective sigh of relief from the fan base.

That off season held a lot of questions but the main one was the question that had surrounded most of the Florida off seasons post Urban Meyer, “Who would be the starting quarterback?” The quarterback battle would pit two freshman quarterbacks against one another in 4-Star quarterback Will Grier and duel threat Treon Harris. After Grier had separated himself as the clear best quarterback on the roster, the Gators went into the fall with some direction under a new coach. Racing to a 6-0 start in the first year of the McElwain era, Will Grier looked to be the guy to finally eviscerate the ghost of Tim Tebow. At the height of it all seems to be the time of the most gut wrenching blow for an uplifting story. On October 12, 2015 news had broken that Will Grier was suspended for the rest of the year and through some of next year for using an unapproved PED.

This was the first domino in the ultimate demise of Jim McElwain as the Head Coach of the University of Florida. As the season began to progress and the Gators were winning, albeit not pretty it was made clear by those that were covering the team that Grier would not be welcomed back and that McElwain was the number proponent in this ordeal. Grier showed promise during his stint at Florida and now with his success at West Virginia this season the resentment from the Florida fans for McElwain began to grow.

The other thing that brought about the demise of McElwain at Florida was his distant relationship with the administration and throwing subtle jabs was something that reportedly cause former AD Jeremy Foley to have “buyers remorse.” The complaining by McElwain of facilities that were in the works to be renovated were just planting the seeds for a program doomed to fail. The last straw was the alleged death threats that McElwain claimed were received by himself and some of his players but wouldn’t give any further information to the police or school officials. At that point the coffin had been shut.

McElwain had his highs and lows at the University of Florida and while he did win some football games and a couple of SEC East titles, current Florida AD said it best, “It’s about more than football.” Stricklin is completely right on this. As a college head coach there’s a level of politics that need to be played in order to please people on things such as the administration, large boosters/donors, as well as the Athletic Director. McElwain simply was unwilling to set aside his ego to create a comfortable working environment around the football program and it showed. McElwain is a good football coach and will most likely win somewhere that fits his style. It just simply won’t be at the University of Florida.