Jim McElwain was voted Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, the league announced Wednesday. The league’s coaches voted on it.
The Gators were picked to finish fifth in the SEC East heading into the 2015 season, but McElwain helped the Gators to a 10-3 record and their first SEC East Division Title since 2009. McElwain is only the third coach in league history to reach the SEC Championship Game in his first season, joining Les Miles at LSU (2005) and Gus Malzahn at Auburn (2013).
The Gators were 11-13 over the previous two seasons, which got Will Muschamp fired. Florida lured McElwain from Colorado State before the season. McElwain is the sixth coach to win SEC Coach of the Year, the first time it has happened since Muschamp was given the honor in after leading the Gators to the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2012 season.
Here are the other Florida football coaches that have earned the honor:
1990-Steve Spurrier (First season as Florida head coach)
2015-Jim McElwain (First season as Florida head coach)
The Gators were selected to play in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on January 1. Florida will face off with Michigan, another national power that has experienced a breakout season under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh. It will be the third meeting between the two teams and the first meeting since the 2007 Citrus Bowl where the Wolverines escaped with a 41-35 win over the Gators, who were led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
The two teams will also face off to open the 2017 season at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.