The Jim McElwain era should be over at Florida
The shirts Florida players wore during the week leading into Saturday’s matchup with Georgia made no secret of the Gators’ underdog status: “Leave no doubt,” they read, above a number, 14.5 — the spread of the rivalry game, in Georgia’s favor.
And then it was 7-0 in four minutes, 14-0 in six minutes and 21-0 less than halfway into the first quarter. It took eight offensive plays to turn those shirts into collector’s items. Georgia, not Florida, was disrespected. The spread should’ve been more.
Optimism ruled the day for Florida back in 2015, the program’s first season under Jim McElwain, when he led a rudderless program to double-digit wins and a spot in the SEC title game. If he can get this far this early, went the logic, the future is wide open. A harsh truth has been revealed in hindsight: It’s never gotten any better than that.
First treading water — with a satisfactory 2016 season that failed to build on a solid debut — and now drowning, the Gators enter November needing to win three of four against Missouri, South Carolina, UAB and Florida State to secure bowl eligibility. Not in decades has the season finale against the Seminoles been so meaningless.
Someone has to answer for Florida’s mediocrity, and it’ll be McElwain. In his team’s performance and his own series of missteps, McElwain has done himself no favors — he’s failed to capitalize on the goodwill accompanying his debut, leaving the former Colorado State head coach and Alabama assistant in serious danger of seeing his once-promising tenure end after three years of rapidly diminishing results. After losing 42-7 on a neutral field, the end could come as soon as Sunday.