After nearly a 3 year stint that saw back to back trips to Atlanta, two SEC East division crowns and an overall record of 22-11, the University of Florida decided to part ways with Head Coach Jim McElwain on Sunday. The initial report came from Football Scoop.
The news comes following Florida’s 42-7 loss to Georgia in Jacksonville on Saturday, their third straight loss this season and their worst loss to Georgia since 1982. The loss dropped Florida to 3-3 in conference play and 3-4 overall.
While Florida’s struggles on the field this season played a part in McElwain’s ultimate demise, the consensus in Gainesville is that administrators were preparing to pull the trigger before Saturday’s outcome.
During a press conference with the media last Monday, McElwain told reporters that he, his players, and fellow coaches had received “death threats” from fans. When asked to go into more detail, McElwain declined to answer. Later that day the University Athletic Association released a statement saying that McElwain did not “give them any details” on the matter.
On Saturday morning, just hours before Florida was set to face 3rd ranked Georgia, the news broke that McElwain and his agent were working out a deal with the University regarding his buyout. According to some sources, the administration had taken issue with McElwain’s unfounded claims of receiving said death threats. This rumor circulated social media before Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin released this official statement on the matter:
Statement from Scott Stricklin pic.twitter.com/W2OFU021I6— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 28, 2017
The rumors again began to swirl when ESPN’s Edward Ashcoff reported that Florida administrators were in discussions regarding McElwain’s future. This report came during the 4th quarter of the Florida-Georgia game. By Saturday night, it had become clear that McElwain’s departure was imminent.
On Sunday morning, sources were reporting that McElwain had met with Florida’s administrators and that he had been officially relieved of his duties as head coach at the University of Florida.
Florida, who has four games remaining on their schedule, has named former Miami head coach and current defensive coordinator Randy Shannon interim head coach to finish out the season.
What does McElwain’s firing mean for Tennessee?
As written last week from our own Terry Lambert, Florida’s firing of McElwain poses a potential road block in Tennessee’s coaching search should they let go of Butch Jones. Both Florida and Tennessee are high profile jobs, and will be two of the biggest openings available following the 2017 season. According to some sources, Florida has interest in pursuing UCF’s Scott Frost as well as Memphis’ Mike Norvell. Both names have also been listed as potential candidates for the Tennessee job as well. Given Scott Stricklin’s previous working relationship with Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, many believe Florida will have some interest in pursuing Mullen.
The Florida gig has become the biggest and most appealing job opening in college football right now. The school has plenty of resources, growing facilities, and its easy access to recruiting hotbeds such as Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, are all attractive reasons for whoever Florida decides to pursue.
With news coming out on Sunday that Butch Jones will be at Tennessee at least through the Southern Miss game next week, Florida could potentially snag a big name before John Currie decides to make a move. At the very least, Tennessee’s biggest SEC East rival will have a leg up in their coaching search and that could be trouble for the Vols.