Jim McElwain is 3-4, which might not seem so bad except the last time the Gators were 3-4 was way back in 1986.
That’s how it works when you’re coaching the Gators, a team with three national titles and a fan base that has gotten used to beating up on Georgia.
Nothing has been officially announced or even publicly discussed, but it sure looks like Saturday’s 42-7 loss to the Bulldogs at EverBank Field was the last straw for McElwain as Gators coach.
It was Georgia’s largest margin of victory in this series since a 44-0 victory in 1982 and it would have been a shutout if not for a late touchdown drive led by Malik Zaire, the quarterback who transferred in from Notre Dame but had gone unused by McElwain until now.
Replace all of that competitive sorrow with SEC championships and McElwain easily survives the kind of mess he caused early last week by dropping the unsubstantiated inference that he and his family and his players had received death threats. It would have been viewed as a poor choice of words and forgotten.
When it’s going like it’s going for the Gators these days, nothing is forgotten, or forgiven, by boosters who expect so much more.
“When you look back, I’ve made mistakes in my life,” McElwain said. “Yet I’ll stand by everything that occurred. It is what it is. It won’t be the first to ever happen to anybody and I get that.
“We put a lot into this program. People have been great to my wife and I. We’ll see what happens. That’s the stuff that’s out of your control, and yet I’m proud of our team. I know we haven’t won and yet those guys are what it’s all about.
“Look, we haven’t been good on offense. I get it. We’ve won a few games, but we haven’t won enough, haven’t won a championship. That’s real. That’s life. That is this business, and I take full responsibility for all of it. There’s no doubt.””
McElwain’s offenses did not rank within the top 100 of major-college teams even when the Gators were winning the 2015 and 2016 SEC East titles. He has not developed redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks and on Saturday, even after a bye week, 14 penalties showed a lack of focus by Florida, including a series of illegal procedure and false start flags against the offense.
Asked if he still wants to be the coach at Florida after all that is reported to be happening behind the scenes, McElwain said “Yeah, you know, this is a dream job. It’s a great place. Great fans. Great support. The resources are there to win. Obviously I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to deliver in the time I’ve been here, but this is one of those places I’ve said from the start where you should have the opportunity.
“My concerns are not at all me. My concerns are these guys, this university. You know, it’s a great place and that really is my concern.”
And if McElwain remains as Florida’s coach for the rest of the season, beginning with next Saturday’s trip to Missouri, how do he and the team bounce back?
“That was a blowout, and something I’m not proud of,” said McElwain, “but how you rebound when something doesn’t go right is you certainly don’t run the other way. You come back to work and get ready to go play this game next week.”
McElwain also was asked about being photographed with a smile on his face as he walked with wife Karen off the field and into the tunnel. The questioner suggested it was not a good look for a coach who just got beat by 35 points.
“She told me to keep my chin up,” McElwain said. “That’s something my dad used to tell me. It doesn’t do you any good to hang your head. Just like I told our guys. I’ve never been about good looks, so I apologize for that, I guess.”