Kan Li / Scout

McElwain has lots of business to do at Florida

Having to fight off rumors about wanting to leave for Oregon, Jim McElwain has done a lot to help build a new foundation at Florida since his arrival two years ago. He’s going up against the program on Saturday where he’s gleaned the most about building that foundation. He’s still shooting down those rumors as he heads to big stage in Atlanta and says there is likely an agenda attached.

Recruiting is a yearlong sport in college football. This time of year, recruiting can get dirtier than other times. As signing day approaches in early February, the sharks are out. McElwain doesn’t mind the attention he and the program are getting by having people believe that Oregon is after him, but believes there is more to it.

“I think what's pretty cool is any time anybody kind of likes you,” he told the media present at the luncheon to kick off the SEC Championship Game festivities. “Growing up where I grew up, not a lot of people like you. So I think having that opportunity where they really care about you, if it is the case -- I mean, I don't know. You read more than I do about it. I've got my hunch maybe somebody in recruiting is trying to throw that out there because we've got some early signings coming up.

“But I think any time someone takes notice, I think that's pretty cool. It certainly doesn't hurt my feelings.

McElwain can draw from his experiences at Alabama when it comes to the recruiting issues involved when his name is mentioned for a job elsewhere.

“Rumors are always out there,” he said. “I remember, even when I was at Alabama with Coach (Saban), every year he was going to Texas or the NFL, I think, and they would drag the NFL thing on because the NFL thing was so late, trying to make sure that that never happened. That's the beauty. It's a free world, man. People will do whatever they want and say whatever they want. I know how excited I am to be a Gator.”

Having been at Alabama where it seems life revolves around the football program, McElwain understands the importance of the infrastructure of the program. When he took the job a couple of years ago, there was almost no infrastructure to be seen.

He’s made significant strides in hiring off-the-field personnel and creating new jobs for the program. Then he set his sights on the facilities within a couple of months of being hired. It is something that had been neglected. A $100 million dollar plan was unveiled a month and a half ago to start the upgrades of the facilities at Florida, but McElwain says he is happier, because the vision that has been created means more than just one change.

“I think that commitment is there,” he said. “I think that the recognition of what they have built is there. Where is it right now? I know that we're talking about it. I know we've got a commitment to get some things built.

“Here's the great thing. We're talking about having a one-year, a three-year, a five-year, a seven-year, a nine-year, a ten-year plan so you can see it all develop, and that's a good thing. It's exciting to be a part of that.

With Alabama in the title hunt every year, there is no reason not to emulate them in every way you can. McElwain having been there for four years earlier in the last decade is looking for that long term commitment for things at Florida to get to that level.

“Look, they've got good players,” he said. “Here's the thing. They've done it, and they keep building. Here's the one thing that people don't realize. Once they start one thing, they're already finishing it and going to another. That's the great thing about sustainability, and what Coach has built, man, it's sustainable, and that's a good thing.”

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