After weeks of endless speculation, rumors, and “sources”, the Florida Gators finally have their head coach – Jim McElwain.
McElwain has been lauded by numerous people in the business as a great leader, talented motivator, bright, creative, tenacious recruiter, sarcastic, dry, and one of the top up-and-coming names in all of college football.
The McElwain era has started in Gainesville.
Jeremy Foley Deserves Respect
//steps on soapbox
*clears throat* Ahem.
Last Wednesday was a day of shock for me reading the message boards. I normally enjoy reading through your threads — making comments when necessary – but on Wednesday I could barely contain myself. I was reading thread after thread about how Jeremy Foley had failed, how he should be fired, how he was hosed by the Colorado State President, how he was a terrible negotiator, and how we looked terrible to the rest of the country because Florida couldn’t convince a coach from Colorado State to come to UF.
Foley is considered, if not the best, one of the best, Athletic Directors in the country, but the amount of disrespect I read about him is just a bit overboard.
Nobody, except for about seven people, were involved in the negotiations on Wednesday and Thursday, and I am willing to bet none of them were posting on Twitter or message boards. The endless speculation about how Jeremy Foley failed was frustrating to me, because I know a lot about the industry (more below), and how quick people were to judge Foley and call him a failure caused me to close the old Internet browser and Twitter machine for the night and catch a movie.
In the end, Foley proved just about everyone wrong. Foley ended up getting a great deal on a very hard-lined $7.5 million buyout and got the coach they had been targeting from the beginning.
Put your self in Foley’s shoes for a second. Do you know how difficult it is to negotiate a $7.5 million buy-out with a school that you are taking their head coach? Not easy. How did it work out for Foley? $3 million payment over time, a home game that you had to schedule in the future, and had McElwain put skin in the game. Incredible work.
I think this is a good lesson in life, temper thoughts and stop speaking in absolutes, unless you are absolutely sure something happened a particular way.
// steps off soapbox.
A Note on Coaching Searches
As many of you know, although some may not, I work in the executive head hunting space for a living (and write for Gator Country). That role allows me access to the world of recruiting, offers, counter-offers, and accepting/declining offers.
So as a note about coaching searches, agents are much more likely to throw names out there than any inside program source. How much was it worth for Jimmy Sexton to throw Hugh Freeze’s name around? Probably about $50,000 for his company, or more, per year on top of what he was making from him already.
If Florida was indeed talking to Jim McElwain, or about him, for numerous weeks, at least one of those calls was going to his agent before reaching out to him last Sunday. Guess who McElwain’s agent is? Jimmy Sexton.
Ergo, when rumors were running rampant about Hugh Freeze last Wednesday – Friday, you have to believe Sexton had talked about McElwain with Foley or Florida representatives. Sexton is not stupid. Pimp his guy’s name out there and talk about his other guy low-key, knowing that he just got a new deal a few months ago. It’s perfect and he gets richer, while getting his guy a job at the program he wants.
Hugh Freeze never had an offer from UF. Neither did Bob Stoops. Or anyone other than Jim McElwain.
Statistical Analysis from Colorado State
It is widely known that Jim McElwain went 22-16 as Head Coach at Colorado State – inheriting a team that had three straight 3-9 seasons and one winning season in the previous eight years. After a 4-8 record his first season, McElwain improved to 8-6 in the second year, with a win against Mike Leach and Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl, and then went 10-2 before heading to Florida.
In his first season at Colorado State, the team struggled on both offense and defense, but I don’t blame McElwain – talent was weak and his system takes a little bit of time to instill. His team had the 102nd ranked offense (Florida was 104th) and 70th ranked defense. But he was focused on 2013.
In 2013, we saw a big improvement. They won eight games, lost six, but of those six losses, five of them were by 14 points or less. His offense climbed up to 24th in the country in total offense, but his defense slipped to 81st, but that drop was only a difference in about eight yards per game. But other things improved. His turnover margin went from 91st to 52nd; time of possession went from 106th to 42nd; long scrimmage plays (10+ yards) grew from 107th to 29th; and first downs per game went from 104th to 39th. In 2013, Colorado State was one of only six teams to finish in the top-30 nationally in rushing and passing per game (Baylor, FSU, Indiana, Marshall, and Oregon, were the others).
In year three, McElwain’s team really hit their stride. Quarterback Garrett Grayson became one of the prolific passers in the FBS, ranking sixth in the country in passing yards per game. Alabama transfer Dee Hart ranked 31st in the country with 104.5 rushing yards per game. And, wide receiver Rashard Higgins ranked first in the country with 149.10 yards per game receiving, while also leading the country in touchdown receptions. Their total offense rose to 12th in the country and were ranked fourth in the country in yards per play. Colorado State’s 3,915 yards passing ranked ninth in the country. (A fun fact: It wasn’t until Will Muschamp’s 22nd game that UF combined for more than 3,915 yards passing yards.)
More coming in further weeks.
Must Read Articles of the Week
- Rolling Stone | A Note To Our Readers
- Frank Rich | In Conversation: Chris Rock
- Nicholas Cameron | Life Sentence
- Lane DeGregory | In Pahokee, football serves as a way out
- Robert Lipsyte | Serving sports fans through Journalism
- Mike Wise | A jogger saved Mike Wise’s life. Six years later, the columnist got to repay him.
- Patrick Hruby | Can a Better Football Helmet Save Your Kid’s Brain?
Song of the Week
One of my favorite artists is Jamey Johnson, someone that you won’t hear much of on the radio. He has an incredible voice, is in the outlaw country space, and is the exact opposite of just about anything you hear on the radio — in terms of attitude, performance, and lyrics.
Here are two awesome performances.