Jim McElwain didn’t endear himself to the powers that be several times since he became the head coach at the University of Florida. He started things off by knocking the facilities at the university for being poor, which was true, and he compounded his problems when he said his dog could run his offense at a high level.
His offense didn’t run at a high level in the two and half seasons when he was head coach, and the Gators had plenty of off-the-field problems, with several suspended this season. Last week, he made vague references to death threats that the school seemed unable to confirm.
Then add a 42-7 defeat to rival University of Georgia, and things went downhill quickly for McElwain, as he and the schools said they were “mutually parting ways.” It is surprising that the head coach for Florida is the first head coach in the SEC to be relieved of his coaching duties this season.
McElwain won back-to-back SEC East titles and is the first coach to play in the SEC Championship game in his two seasons. His 19 wins coming into this season tied Florida great Steve Spurrier for most wins in the first two seasons in school history.
But McElwain and Florida were never a match made in Heaven.. If the Gators were still winning games instead of having a three-game losing streak, the coach might still be in Gainesville instead of leaving with a 22-12 overall record during his time at the school.
Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon will assume the head-coaching duties for the rest of this season.
Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin might not have to look far for his next head coach. Stricklin is the former AD at Mississippi State University, so he could target current Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen.
Stricken didn’t hire Mullen at MSU—former AD Greg Byrne did—but Mullen did work with the current Gators AD from 2010 to 2016. He also has ties to Florida, coaching there under Urban Meyer from 2005 to 2008 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. While at Florida, Mullen helped the Gators win the 2005 and 2007 national championship.
One of the biggest criticisms of McElwain was his inability to develop a quarterback during his time at Florida. Mullen has a proven track record at developing quarterbacks. He helped make Alex Smith a top draft choice while coaching at the University of Utah, turned Tim Tebow into a Heisman winner at Florida and developed Dak Prescott into a NFL-ready quarterback when the the Dallas Cowboys drafted the former MSU great.
Mullen has done wonders at MSU, even though he doesn’t get many five-star recruits. Instead he has hired coaches to help him develop players at nearly every position. It has worked, as he has a 67-44 record at MSU, and his team is eligible for an eighth-straight bowl game.
Florida is one the richest recruiting states, and there is no reason why the Gators shouldn’t be one of the top teams in the SEC each year. The university is also one of the top revenue schools in the conference with a more-than-$100-million-dollar athletic budget.
MSU has one of the smaller athletic budgets in the SEC. Mullen has worked wonders with his current resources, so just imagine what he could do at Florida. All the tools for him to be successful are already in place or in the works.
Florida is in the process of upgrading facilities, and the Gators can recruit with just about anyone. Currently, UF is a sleeping giant that McElwain and former head coach Will Muschamp were barely able to get up from a nap.
The Gators were giants of the SEC under Spurrier and Meyer but have struggled to find their footing after both coaches left. Mullen is a proven coach. If he wants the job, he could make Florida the beast of the East again.