Notebook: Building a coaching staff

Jim McElwain met with the Florida staff right after getting to Gainesville early Friday night and the meetings will continue through the weekend.

There have been no decisions made about which, if any, staff members McElwain will choose to retain.

The new Florida coach wouldn’t give a timetable for any hire to be made. He’ll continue to meet with the current coaching staff on Saturday and Sunday before they hold a team meeting early Monday morning.

It will be McElwain’s first introduction to the Florida team since the players were given the weekend off and many of them went home. After the meeting, the staff will hit the road to start recruiting, and McElwain joked that they won’t return until the dead period begins.

The Florida coach doesn’t want to rush into any decision about his assistants and wants to give the coaches already on staff a fair shot to retain their position.

“These guys have come here and done a great job for this university,” McElwain said about the current assistants on staff. “It's an opportunity for me to get around these guys. As we kind of look through it, we'll get a chance to visit with everybody in the organization, and it isn't just the coaches.

“I think the one thing that's lost sometimes is it's not just the coaches. It's everything that touches the desk of the head football coach. A lot of that will be evaluated over time as we move forward and build the infrastructure that is success."

The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that McElwain wouldn’t bring any assistants from Colorado State with him. That staff was built mostly to recruit and be successful on the west coast, and now he needs to build a staff with ties to the state of Florida and throughout the southeast.

“Here’s the key -- get the best,” McElwain said. “Get the best that’s a fit for the university, get the best that’s a fit for the area and we’ll do that very diligently. We’ll get it right.”

PLAYER MEETING: With many of the players out of town this weekend, McElwain is excited for his chance to meet with the team on Monday morning. The challenge for them will be to buy into their weight program and practices for the bowl game once those begin.

The Gators could find out where their bowl game will be on Sunday.

“Embrace what they’re doing,” McElwain said of his message to the team on Monday. “You’re Gators, let’s go win a bowl game.”

McElwain will be hands off with the program during the bowl game, joking that he’d be eating popcorn while it was going on.

“Maybe we’ll go tailgating, can we do that Bernie?” McElwain joked with the Florida president. “Can we go set up a grill?”

FRIENDS WITH SPURRIER: McElwain has already spoken with former Florida coach and player Steve Spurrier since taking the job.

“Mac, welcome to Gator country,” McElwain recalled hearing.

The conversation meant a lot to the new Florida coach. They’d met years ago during an off-field obligation, and McElwain has always respected what Spurrier has done and how his offense has worked.

“He’s one of those guys that I’ve kind of always looked at what he’s done,” McElwain said. “The brand of ball he plays is something I’ve always admired from afar.”

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