There doesn’t seem to be much doubt about what is about to happen in Knoxville. Butch Jones has seen his foundation crumble beneath him this season, starting the year 3-4 overall and 0-4 in SEC play. Not to jump the gun, but change feels imminent.
As we prepare ourselves for that moment, you better take note of what’s going on in Gainesville. On Monday, Florida head coach Jim McElwain said that he had received death threats after his 3-3 start to the season.
McElwain didn’t elaborate when asked about the threats. The University released a rather odd statement in response to McElwain’s comments.
"The [UAA] takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon and he offered no additional details."
“(McElwain) offered no additional details.” That kind of implies that the University is skeptical, right?
As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinal notes, this all just seems bizarre.
It’s becoming more and more clear that UF’s head football coach and UF’s administration are not on the same page. The lack of communication between the football coach and athletics director Scott Stricklin is eye-opening. Seriously, who gets angry, hateful death threats and tells the media before he tells his own administration?
Obviously, something is awry here and you can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end of McElwain’s tempestuous tenure at UF. There is very clearly a rift between McElwain and his superiors over this very serious issue.
A deadly serious issue
The story here stems from the school’s response. You would think we would at least get some sort of statement of support in a situation like this, but that’s not what happened. Like Bianchi said, something is off here.
McElwain’s on the field performance this year has left some Florida fans wanting to move on, despite the fact that he’s won the SEC East in both of his first two seasons at Florida. Still, even with the division titles, McElwain’s teams haven’t seemed all that special. They’ve struggled every year offensively, minus the handful of games with Will Grier. The hot seat talk had already begun before all of this new drama broke.
Building off of all that, McElwain and Florida just don’t seem like a great fit for each other. This isn’t the first example of drama between the school and the coach.
Could Florida move on? Maybe. There certainly seems to be friction there. My guess is that we’ll get some sort of clarification later in the week from both sides as they try to put out the fire. But it sounds like there’s a decent chance that we could see McElwain on the move. Florida takes on Georgia as 14 point dogs this weekend in Jacksonville, which is likely going to take them to 3-4.
If the Florida job were to come open, that’s obviously not good news for Tennessee and AD John Currie — assuming they make a move. That’s two big time SEC gigs looking for a coach, which means the guy you want is probably also the guy they want.
Tennessee is probably going to be one of, if not the best job on the board if they move on from Jones. Oregon State, Georgia Southern and UTEP have already fired their coaches, but none of those schools would have any bearing on Tennessee. Nebraska, UCLA, Arkansas and Texas Tech seem to be the other real players right now. I’m sure more surprises will pop up, but adding Florida into the mix would be an obvious issue.
It’s all about timing, of course. You would think Tennessee would want to get out in front of things and swing for the fences, but they haven’t yet. Maybe they’ve started behind the scenes. Either way, this is a big potential curveball we’ll have to pay attention to.