Ten regular season wins erased any doubts that Jim McElwain is the right coach at the right time for the Florida Gators. But McElwain will be the first to tell you he couldn’t do it without a committed staff that gets it done on the field and on the recruiting trail.
Tuesday, following Florida’s practice for Friday’s Buffalo Wild Wings McElwain reflected on his staff of assistants.
“Part of what you try to do within the total organization is put people in that aren’t independent contractors, that aren’t just in it for themselves, that actually care about people, actually care about the players and not just what their next job is,” McElwain said.
Although several of his assistants had opportunities to take jobs elsewhere, McElwain will return his entire staff next season, which is critical for continuity and player development. McElwain says one of the reasons his staff stuck together is because he found guys who were good fits in every way, which led to outstanding staff chemistry.
“I hired really good people,” McElwain said. “Guys that care about the organization, care about each other and are willing to give up themselves for the benefit of others. Yeah, maybe I didn’t know a lot of them personally [when I hired them] but we’ve crossed paths and they’ve worked at places and with coaches that I’m really good friends with and the fit, not only with the coach but with their families, has been awesome.”
GIVE THESE GUYS UNION CARDS
The Gators shot themselves out of a win over Florida State at the O-Dome Tuesday night. Florida’s 73-71 loss to the Seminoles has everything to do with inept shooting. The Gators were 4-25 (16%) from the 3-point line and a poor 19-29 (65.5%) from the foul line. One 3-pointer or 3 made free throws and the Gators win this game. If they hit 32% from the 3-point line and just hit three more free throws it’s a blowout win for the Gators. This team has enough talent to win a lot of games, but unless they can hit some shots they’re going to struggle. The lone bright spot for the Gators was freshman KeVaughn Allen, who hit three of Florida’s four 3-pointers en route to a 32-point scoring effort. Allen was 10-18 overall from the field, 3-7 from the 3-point line and 9-9 from the foul line. The rest of the team was miserable. Take away Allen and the Gators were 14-42 from the field, 1-18 from the 3-point line and 10-20 from the foul line. Give these guys union cards. They’re true brick masons.
THE TRULY ELITE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAMS
These programs are in perpetual reload:
1. Alabama: Nick Saban is 96-12 since 2008 with three national championships. This is the kind of domination Alabama enjoyed when Bear Bryant was the head ball coach.
2. Ohio State: In his four years as Ohio State’s head coach, Urban Meyer has had two winning streaks of more than 20 games and a 48-4 record with a national championship. Since 2000, Ohio State is 157-37 with two national championships.
3. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops has won more football games at Oklahoma than either Barry Switzer or Bud Wilkinson. He’s 172-39 since 2000 with a national championship and nine Big-12 titles. Oklahoma has won 7 national championships.
4. Florida State: Jimbo Fisher is 68-13 and just discovered that the folks at FSU have no intention of letting him go. His flirtation with LSU will raise his pay to nearly $6 million a year. Facilities are exceptional and the Seminoles play in the ACC.
ON THE VERGE OF ELITE
These programs have everything it takes to join the ranks of the elite:
1. Florida: The Gators won 10 games for the first time since 2009 this year and recruiting is off the charts. Florida is 147-59 since 2000 with two national championships but the Gators were only 23-15 from 2002-04 and 37-26 from 2010-14.
2. Miami: Miami was 71-16 from 2000-06 but since then the Hurricanes are only 64-50. If new coach Mark Richt will focus his efforts on recruiting 20 players a year from the All-Dade and All-Broward teams he will win at least 10 games a year. If he can plug in the few holes from outside SoFla he could have the Himmicanes back in the national championship hunt in a hurry.
3. Clemson: Clemson has won at least 10 games in each of the last six seasons. As painful as it might be for some to admit, Dabo Swinney has the Tigers close to perpetual reload. Clemson should be in the SEC. The facilities and fan base are more like SEC than ACC.
4. Texas: Texas is 41-35 since 2010. From 2000-2009 the Longhorns were 110-19. Charlie Strong has posted consecutive losing seasons but this is Texas and with the athletes that are available, getting back to elite is never far away.
5. Southern Cal: More people live within a 100-mile radius of the USC campus than live in the entire state of Florida. Any decent coach should win 9-10 games. If they can find the next Pete Carroll they could dominate once again.
6. Michigan: The Wolverines are 9-3 so far this year but only 55-45 since 2008. The Wolverines have won one national championship (in 1997) since 1948.
7. Notre Dame: The Golden Dome isn’t nearly as shiny and some of the mystique is gone from Touchdown Jesus, but as long as Notre Dame gets special privileges and isn’t required to join a conference, then it’s not that far away from the national championship hunt. Since 2000, the Irish are 125-74. The last national championship was 1988.
These programs are a lot like Georgia, which still talks about those almost national championships in 2007 and 2012:
1. Georgia: Georgia won a national championship in 1942, then waited 38 years before the next one and that was only possible because Herschel Walker snorts Kryptonite as his recreational drugs of choice. They just fired Mark Richt for averaging nearly 10 wins a year for 15 years and hired Kirby Smart, who has never been a head coach before. Did they learn nothing from their Ray Goff experience?
2. Tennessee: Since winning the national championship in 1998, there have been more years to forget than years to remember. Nowadays, they celebrate bowl eligible. The Vols are 119-82 since 2000.
3. Oregon: They have a blank check from Uncle Phil but it’s still Oregon which means 90% of the recruits are from out of state. The Ducks are one below average coach away from becoming a happy to get to the Sun Bowl program again. Oregon is 155-50 since 2000.
4. Stanford: They’re on a good run right now, largely because the administration is willing to take some academic chances on recruits. Stanford is only a change in administration away from celebrating 7-5 seasons.
5. Baylor: As long as Art Briles is the coach, Baylor will be relevant. The Bears are an Art Briles retirement and a bad hire away from obscurity once again.
6. Michigan State: Michigan State has had a nice run under Mark Dantonio but no matter what they do in Sparty they will always be viewed as Michigan’s country cousin. It wasn’t all that long ago that John L. Smith put together three straight losing seasons.
7. TCU: The situation is very similar to that of Baylor. The Horned Frogs are 142-47 since 2000 under Gary Patterson but they still haven’t won or come close to winning a national championship.
8. Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy is a man and a very good football coach, but Okie State will always be the country cousin to Oklahoma. They have all that money from T. Boone Pickens but money hasn’t bought the Cowboys any love yet.
9. Washington: Washington hasn’t had a good run since Don James retired. Chris Peterson is the coach now but can he repeat at Washington what he did at Boise State?
10. Texas A&M: In Texas it’s said that only God has more money than the Aggies, who are living proof that money can’t buy you love. Kids in Texas dream of being Longhorns and that’s not going to change in this lifetime.
BOWLING FOR DOLLARS
Memphis 38, Auburn 30: The Tigers couldn’t stop anyone when Will Muschamp was coaching the defense so with Muschamp and Travaris Robinson gone to South Carolina, how do they think they’ll stop Paxton Lynch. Memphis has already beaten Ole Miss this year. Auburn isn’t nearly as good as Ole Miss. This is the Birmingham Bowl. Lose and you are required to stay an extra week.
Mississippi State 34, North Carolina State 21: There are lots of Florida connections here. Dan Mullen used to coordinate the offense and coach QBs at UF. Jacoby Brissett spent two years playing QB at Florida after turning down a chance to play for Mullen at Mississippi State. Brissett will put up some good numbers against the MSU defense, but Dak Prescott will own this day. The Dakster closes out his college football career with big numbers that get the Bulldogs their ninth win.
Louisville 28, Texas A&M 20: This could be interesting. The folks in Nashville, where the Music City Bowl is being played Wednesday, think Chip Kelly is probably going to be the next head coach of the NFL Tennessee Titans. Kevin Sumlin, who coaches the Aggies, is said to be teetering on the verge of a pink slip if he loses to Louisville in Nashville. If Sumlin crashes and burns, the Aggies could make an offer that Kelly would have trouble refusing.
Southern Cal 31, Wisconsin 29: The first thing Clay Helton did when Southern Cal made him the official head coach was fire his defensive coordinator. Smart idea there, but will the interim staff come up with a game plan that can stop anybody? If Cody Kessler can get hot throwing the ball, the Trojans won’t need any defense to win.
Chip Kelly, fired by the Philadelphia Eagles Tuesday, says he wants to remain in the NFL rather than return to college football. Immediate speculation has Kelly landing on his feet with the Tennessee Titans where his quarterback will be Marcus Mariota, who he recruited to Oregon five years ago.
The Miami Dolphins are said to be considering UCLA’s Jim Mora Jr. as their next head coach.
Baylor ran for 645 yards against North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl played in Orlando Tuesday night. That’s the highest rushing total in bowl game history.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
As you look to the future in college football, which teams do you think will attain or maintain elite status?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Because the Gators are playing Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on Friday, the music for the rest of the week will be from Michigan bands or singers. Today’s selection is Bob Seger’s first album “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” from 1969.