With Jim McElwain, history has a way of repeating itself. Just look at his last two coaching stops prior to Florida.
His first year on the job at Alabama in 2008, the Crimson Tide averaged a respectable 184.64 yards on the ground and 4.55 yards per rush. Alabama’s passing game was good for 171.1 yards and 7.2 yards per attempt. Alabama averaged 30.1 points per game that year. In 2009, Alabama improved to 215.07 on the ground and 5.01 per rush with 187.9 yards passing and 7.6 yards per attempt. Alabama averaged 32.1 points per game.
As the head coach at Colorado State, McElwain’s first team in 2012 averaged 128.83 yards per game on the ground and 3.87 yards per attempt. The passing game was good for 210.2 yards per game and 7.2 yards per attempt. The Rams averaged 21.2 points per game. In year two, those numbers improved to 205.14 per game on the ground (5.04 per attempt) and 266.4 through the air (7.8 per attempt. The 2013 Colorado State team averaged 36.2 points per game.
Year one (2015) for McElwain as Florida’s head coach saw the Gators average 126.93 yards per game on the ground (3.48 per attempt) and 207.1 yards passing (7.2 yards per attempt).
At Alabama, McElwain broke in a new quarterback (Greg McElroy) and a new go-to running back (Mark Ingram) in year two and the offense thrived as Alabama went 14-0 to win the national championship. At Colorado State, Garrett Grayson came back from a 2012 injury to become one of the best QBs in the nation in year two. That year (2013) juco transfer running back Kapri Bibbs gained 1,741 yards and scored 31 touchdowns as Colorado State transformed from barely respectable into an offensive juggernaut and a bowl team.
Now just because McElwain had great success in his second year on the job at both Alabama and Colorado State is no guarantee the Florida Gators will enjoy similar success in Mac’s second year in Gainesville. But history does have a way of repeating itself, particularly in football where winning coaches put a process in place that, if followed, typically produces better results.
So consider 2016: Luke Del Rio should be an upgrade at QB to Treon Harris because he’s taller and has a better arm and Will Grier because you can bet the farm that Del Rio won’t get into substance abuse and then lie about it. While Kelvin Taylor played hard and gained more than 1,000 yards, does anyone think for even a second that Mark Thompson isn’t going to be a substantial upgrade at running back?
My prediction is history repeats itself in a big way.
Football nuggets: The Golden Nugget sports book in Las Vegas predicts the Gators will win 8 games in 2016 ... Florida’s Jalen Tabor joins FSU’s Dalvin Cook and Miami’s Brad Kaaya on the Region 4 cover of Sporting News College Football Yearbook 2016 ... Athlon Sports SEC 2016 preview hits the stands today … Phil Steele’s 2016 yearbook won’t be available until June 28.
10 ALL-TOO-SOON GRASS IS GREENER CANDIDATES FOR 2016
These coaches might be tempted to make a move after the 2016 college football season.
1. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: He’s taken Mississippi State to six straight bowl games and has won 50 games since 2010. At Mississippi State you measure bowl seasons like dog years, so those six straight bowl games are like 42 at Alabama. At some point he’s got to wonder if championship opportunities are out there for the taking.
2. Larry Fedora, North Carolina: Pay close attention to what happens at Baylor. If Art Briles is held responsible for all the sexual assaults by his current and former football players, Fedora will get the first call for a number of reasons. He grew up in Texas and was once a Baylor assistant, but more importantly, he cleaned up a sewer at UNC and has the Tar Heels pointed in the right direction. He’d be the perfect choice if Baylor parts ways with Briles.
3. Tom Herman, Houston: If the Big 12 expansion doesn’t include Houston, then consider him a goner sooner than later. If Kevin Sumlin gets the axe (if he doesn’t win 9 games that is a distinct possibility) at Texas A&M, Herman will get the first call.
4. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky: Brohm had several jobs he could have taken last year after going 12-2, but he’s picky. He’s not going anywhere that has perpetual loser written all over it. He will keep winning at WKU until he finds the job he wants. That could be this year because there will be a lot of open jobs.
5. Matt Rhule, Temple: When you can win 10 games at Templeyou definitely know how to coach. Rhule is 40 years old and making $1,200,000. He's got NFL in his pedigree and he played for Joe Paterno in the 90's.
6. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan: He’s 35, somewhat of an offensive genius, makes only $450,000 a year and could be somebody’s long term future.
7. Terry Bowden, Akron: The Little Dweeb is actually a really good football coach. He’s been in purgatory too long – first at North Alabama and now at Akron – and he’s proven he still knows how to win football games. He probably won’t get a job in a power conference but Conference USA, the Mountain West or AAC could get him.
8. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State: The Mounties are going to duplicate or better last year’s 11-win season in 2016. He’s only making $375,000 so he will be somebody’s bargain.
9. Mike Leach, Washington State: The Pirate won 9 games last year at Wazzoo, which isn’t the end of the earth but there are signs in Pullman that can direct you there if you’re willing to take a 20-minute drive. He’s still only 54, knows how to put points on a scoreboard and would crawl backwards to coach in warm weather.
10. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati: Cincinnati is begging the Big 12 to expand into Ohio, which will give West Virginia at least one conference opponent within a couple of light years. If Cincy isn’t part of the expanded Big 12, bet the ranch Tubs will have his agent calling any power conference school with an opening. He will win wherever he goes. He always has and always will.
BEST I’VE EVER SEEN: MLB
One of the advantages of being a huge baseball fan while growing up in Florida during the 1950s and 1960s was getting a chance to see Major Leaguers up close and personal at spring training parks. I remember when I was 11 standing a few feet away from the bullpen at Tinker Field and watching Sandy Koufax warm up before taking the mound against the Minnesota Twins. You could hear the ball when it left his hand all the way to the mitt of Johnny Roseboro. My first memory of Roberto Clemente was watching him throw the ball on the fly from the right field corner at Al Lopez Field in Tampa to nail Vada Pinson sliding into third base. In the more than 50 years since then, I’ve never seen a throw that good.
Today’s top 10 list of the best I’ve ever seen either in person or on television is from Major League Baseball.
1. Roberto Clemente
2. Henry Aaron
3. Brooks Robinson
4. Sandy Koufax
5. Willie Mays
6. Johnny Bench
7. Jim Palmer
8. Ken Griffey Jr.
9. Lou Brock
10. Ozzie Smith
Special mention: You might notice Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens aren’t on my list. They juiced … Pete Rose set the standard for hits and toughness as a player, but I wouldn’t take him over anyone I’ve got on the list no matter how much I loved how hard he played … I had a hard time not including Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Greg Maddux, Nolan Ryan and Catfish Hunter … I covered the 1970 World Series in which Brooks Robinson set the standard for how third base is supposed to be played … I also had a hard time leaving off guys like Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Rollie Fingers, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
WVU CONFIDENT GRIER WILL PLAY AT THE BEGINNING OF 2017
I know, old news. There is a reason I waited this long to mention it. It’s because I don’t care. The NCAA didn’t buy his “honest mistake” excuse and neither do I. I couldn’t care less if he has even one moment of success at West Virginia. This is one guy for whom I will never wonder what if?
DRAYMOND GREEN WON’T BE SUSPENDED
Did you see Draymond Green’s assault on Steven Adams’ private parts Sunday night? Green says he was simply trying to draw a foul. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr says it was inadvertent. The NBA will not suspend Green but has fined him and upgraded the foul to a Flagrant 2 which means he will be suspended if he is called for another flagrant foul in the playoffs. I’ve watched the replay several times and I tend to lean toward intentional.
When the NCAA basketball season ended, more than 117 players declared for the NBA Draft. Now that the combine is over and players have a chance for realistic evaluations, it’s evident that the rules that extended decision time by a month has worked. College football would be wise to do the same thing but it would mean pushing back National Signing Day, so I don’t think we’ll see changes any time soon.
File this under best college football news for a Monday: Pitt running back James Conner says he is now cancer free. Diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma that caused him to miss all but one game last year, Conner participated in Pitt’s spring drills while still undergoing chemo Folks, this is what you call a man’s man.
Tom Brady has asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for a second hearing regarding his 4-game suspension for Deflate-Gate. Both NFL commish Roger Goodell and Brady could do a world of good for the pro game if they would sit down and agree to split the suspension in half. Do you think they will? Neither do I.
Speaking of Roger Goodell, I wonder how he’s going to handle this 91-page report that the NFL engaged in a highly improper campaign to influence a major US Government research study on football and brain disease The report states the NFL pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip a $16 million project from a prominent Boston University researcher. If this is true, then it’s time to run Roger Goodell out of the NFL on a rail.
The Orlando Magic have a new coach in Frank Vogel. They also have the 11th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Chad Ford of ESPN has the Magic taking Skal Labissiere of Kentucky. Please, Frank, do not be that dumb, especially if Domantis Sabonis of Gonzaga is still available when you draft.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Does history repeat itself for McElwain in 2016 or will it take another year or two of rebuilding for Florida to put an explosive offense on the field again?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
The Avett Brothers will be playing a Friday night concert at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena the night before the Florida-Georgia football game. In case you’ve never heard them, here is a 2014 concert they played in Knoxville. A friend of mine who has seen them several times describes their music as blue grass/folk/country with a touch of The Beatles thrown in. I think of them as what might have happened if NRBQ had merged with Pure Prairie League.