New Florida coach Jim McElwain has made it a priority to rebuild the infrastructure. That points to multiple areas -- the coaching staff, the facilities and the recruiting staff. With the coaching staff, that meant hiring the best group possible. While the receivers coach is still yet to be filled, McElwain hired an impressive staff on paper.
For his recruiting staff, McElwain kept director of player personnel Drew Hughes on staff and added associate director of player personnel Kevin Barbay from his Colorado State staff. The secondary staff is expected to add more coaches this offseason.
Facilities have been the biggest focus since McElwain took over. The indoor practice facility has already been announced, and they broke ground on it last week. It will be done by the start of fall camp. Foley also admitted that they are looking at some updates to the locker room and will focus on possibly improving the student-athlete dorms over the summer.
“We have a history of getting stuff done around here,” Foley said. “We will get it done. We're going to rebuild this football program. Just like Mac said at the basketball game, we want a national championship program, and we're going to do what we need to get that done. We are going to evaluate our facilities and make sure Coach Mac has everything he needs to be successful.”
McElwain has been on the job for over two months now, and Foley is seeing the buzz return to a program that has been missing it for years. When the Florida athletic director is around town, he has heard multiple people excited about the direction the program is going.
That excitement only built on National Signing Day. McElwain and his staff were able to salvage the class and sign two five-star players, keeping offensive tackle Martez Ivey and defensive end CeCe Jefferson in the state. There were still players that decided to sign elsewhere, but the Gators put together a solid class considering McElwain had two months to build relationships with prospects.
“There’s a really good vibe around our program now,” Foley said. “The finish on signing day, the phone calls and e-mails I got, they’re different e-mails than I was getting this fall, for sure. I think the staff he’s put together, I think the fact that you had some athletes jump on board late that everybody in the country wanted, I think that season ticket sales are going well. People are excited. I think the vibe is really good, and at the end of the day, we need to go win games. We all get that. It’s all that matters.
“But I’m very confident in Mac. Just look at his track record. He’s won a lot of games in his life. That’s going to happen here. I think it’s going to happen in a way that’s going to make the Gator Nation happy, so I like the vibe right now.”
The last two years made it obvious that change was necessary, and McElwain has injected life into the program since taking over. The Florida fan base lost its enthusiasm after its bowl streak ended during the 2013 season, and the Gators had to fight to be bowl eligible in 2014 before being sent to the Birmingham Bowl.
The program needs fixing, and Foley is optimistic that it will happen soon.
“I hate where we are today in football,” Foley said. “I hate it for The Gator Nation. Certainly we feel good about where we're headed. There's a real positive vibe right now around our football program, and that's directly attributed to the job Mac has done. You think about signing day last Wednesday. That was two months to the day since we announced his hire. He came in here and put a staff together. Those guys were on the road for two, two and a half weeks and look what they did in recruiting. I think that just shows you where this program is headed.”