Will Muschamp, Jim McElwain, and Why I’ll Be Renewing My Season Tickets Regardless

Somewhere along the line, Will Muschamp lost his way. The man that was hired to be the head coach of the Florida Gators nearly four years ago could no longer cut it as the leader of the orange and blue footballers.

Jim McElwain

It was sad at times to see our once great program fall to the depths of a 4-8 season and follow that up with a team that couldn’t finish close games. Along the way, we seemed to know one thing—that Muschamp’s tenure at the University of Florida was quickly coming to a close and there was little chance there would be a year five.

I’m not disappointed that Muschamp won’t return. We have to be honest with ourselves in saying that the Gators weren’t cutting it over the last two calendar years. Many only had good things to say about Muschamp the person once his firing (oh, sorry, he “resigned”) was announced. That’s all good and well, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that he wasn’t winning football games. Even Ron Zook went 16-8 in the SEC. Muschamp served up a paltry 17-15 conference record. That’s right; in eight more SEC games, Muschamp only managed one more conference win than Zook.

But let’s not harp on the latest former head coach—Muschamp will get paid handsomely to coordinate a defense and will eventually be asked to be a head coach again. I wish him well, but at the same time I am excited to see what the next era in Florida Gators football brings.

That era began on December 4, 2014 with the announcement that former Alabama offensive coordinator and Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain would lead the Gators into the future. Many of you immediately yelled (or, more accurately, tweeted) “COLORADO STATE?!?” I’m forced to remind you where we found Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

We had forgotten McElwain, he of Bama lore. He had gone to the Rams and turned around a team while we had turned our focus back to the SEC. His three-year progression from 4-8 to 8-6 to 10-2 is impressive. Even more so when you consider Zook and Muschamp HAD NEVER BEEN HEAD COACHES!!!

He’s not the sexy name, but who is these days? Nick Saban? Yeah, never going to happen. Chip Kelly? Really not a possibility. Bringing Spurrier back? The guy is now 69 years old. McElwain, for the record is 52, or 17 years younger than the man at South Carolina. (Side note: McElwain is 17 years old than I am. That’s some weird Bermuda triangle right there.)

He’s an offensive coach. Check. He’s a good recruiter. Check (although so many of them are these days). High school coaches like him. Check. Former and current players rave about him. Check. A lot of people a whole lot smarter and more connected than I am like the hire. Check. He’s not Lane Kiffin. Check.

We have a little bit of a project on our hands, but we also did on December 31, 1989 when Spurrier was announced as the next head coach of the Gators. Spurrier was given a pass from the critics because 1) Twitter didn’t exist, and 2) if his Wikipedia page is correct, he won a Heisman Trophy as a quarterback at the University of Florida. But here was Spurrier’s record in three years at Duke: 20-13-1. He’s McElwain’s in three years at CSU: 22-16. Spurrier won 59% of his college-coached games before coming to Florida; McElwain won 58% of his.

I’m not saying McElwain will be Florida’s savior. How could I possibly know that? How could anyone? But on paper (and the Internet), he looks like a good candidate and one that we—myself included—shouldn’t have overlooked. He could be great, he could fall flat on his face, but both of those are true of anyone that would have been named the next head coach. (REMINDER THAT SABAN AND KELLY WEREN’T COMING!)

It’s about two months until I’ll receive my notice for season ticket renewal. I’ll be honest again (I’m never not) and say that I would have renewed regardless. Muschamp, McElwain, whoever—I would still be a season ticket holder in 2015. I enjoy it despite the fact that there haven’t been a whole lot of wins I’ve seen in person since becoming one, but having season tickets to Florida Gators football pleases me. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I’ll have them for a long time. I’d like more wins, of course, but I’ll go through the painful times as well. Call me what you want for having that philosophy, but it’s my choice and will be for many years to come.

So here we are Florida fans. We have a bowl game and 60 minutes of D.J. Durkin the head coach. Then we have months and months and months of watching McElwain build his Gators. The 2015 season can’t get here soon enough.

The Long Snapper (2/1/10)

La Grange (La Grange, GA) quarterback Jamius Gunsby made it official this weekend.  He will sign with USF on National Signing Day.  Gunsby had previously mentioned if all went well on his official visit to Tampa, he would most likely commit to the Bulls.  The QB had a great time at USF and said he felt extremely comfortable with the school and the coaching staff.  If Evan Landi does indeed move to wide receiver full-time as rumors suggest, Gunsby could find himself as the primary backup to starting quarterback B.J. Daniels from day one.  Go back and take a look at Gunsby’s highlight video and get excited. Despite not receiving a lot of national attention, he looks like he could end up being a great player for the Bulls.
USF also picked up a commitment from Thomas County Central (Thomasville, GA) safety Reshard Cliett over the weekend.  Cliett is considering a diamond in the rough and had been recruited by Skip Holtz while he was still the head coach at ECU.  Although not highly recruited, Bulls’ coaches believe they have something of a project in Cliett.  With his speed and height (6’2”), USF may look to bulk him up and move him to outside linebacker.
Big time prospect Todd Chandler may be back in the mix for the Bulls.  After committing to Miami early in the process, Chandler made the switch to USF back in December.  Following the commitment, Chandler started to waiver.  He mentioned taking a number of official visits, but also said he remained committed at times.  Eventually, the defensive tackle dropped off of USF’s list and Louisville was rumored to be the leader.  Now Chandler appears to be done.  He has mentioned the recruiting process is over for him and on National Signing Day he will decided between USF, Colorado State, Louisville, and Syracuse.  Good money says the Bulls and Cardinals lead the pack.
The Senior Bowl didn’t give us the best picture of Tim Tebow the NFL quarterback: 8-of-12 for 50 yards with one carry for four yards and two fumbles.  After that “ehh” performance, we might as well do our best to talk up the former Florida star.  To many pro scouts, the actual game doesn’t matter.  It’s the week of practice they look at.  And while there were those teams that shied away from Tebow after seeing him in person, there were also those that noted he improved over the course of the week.  Not tremendously, but enough to make them think at the very least.  Tebow may never be a star quarterback in the NFL, but he could be turned into a contributor and someone who plays a large role in the offense.  It’ll be a long process, but Tebow showed he can learn.  20 years from now, we may not remember him as an All-Pro, Hall of Fame quarterback, but we may remember him as a solid force that helped his team do the most important thing.  Win.
For those of you who aren’t as obsessed as the rest of us, but still want updates, I’ll be typing away feverously throughout National Signing Day, but you have to do a little work to get it.  I’ll be providing updates as fast as my fingers allow on both The Bull Gator’s Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the day.  So become a fan or follow me and get updates on who ends up where.  For those of you not so inclined, the Twitter widget in the left of the two menu bars provides my last five updates, so make sure you come back here often.  I’m sure they’ll be a story or two posted afterwards as well.  And definitely make sure to come back throughout the week after National Signing Day as I profile each and every recruit who signs with Florida and USF.