GC PODCAST: On McElwain’s firing as Florida Gators coach

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about why Jim McElwain was let go as head coach of the Florida Gators on Sunday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down what went wrong for him and where Florida goes next.

Andrew and Nick also talk about some names that should be on the Gators short list of coaching candidates to replace McElwain.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re not going to say it’s going to be a down podcast. It’s going to have some ups, some downs, some mediums. It’s going to be a podcast full of lit observations.

Nick:                         It’s lit.

Andrew:                 It’s lit. It’s always going to be lit. It’s ready to go. Let’s go.

Nick:                         Let me get something out of the way.

Andrew:                 Go ahead.

Nick:                         Florida lost, 42-7 to Georgia. They fell to 3-4. They will not be going to the SEC Championship. Georgia will, and that’s probably the last we’re going to talk about football.

Andrew:                 Probably not, because one of my supporting stats coming up in a few minutes will involve that game. First of all, Nick, let me just say one more thing about that, and that is that it is very telling when fans, when us in the media, when everyone goes into that game thinking, “What’s the largest blowout in this history? How bad is this going to get?” Never should you say that at the University of Florida. Never, ever.

Nick:                         I found that stat real quick though.

Andrew:                 I found that stat for you.

Nick:                         You found the stat. Thank you. You were my minion.

Andrew:                 Whatever. We all have to help the dumb every once in a while. Anyway, yes. That brings me to the next point. Obviously, Nick, you and I were out in front of this, and had said some things throughout the week. Really got to the point on Friday where you and I had started hinting that was going to be it for Mac. I know you had some opinions that you thought he would make it through the FSU game. Then also had your opinions this was going to be it.

Sunday, the news breaks. We’re taping this at 4:20. The technical terms haven’t been released. Right now, the term is Mac is no longer the head football coach at Florida. By the time you’re listening to this, you’ll know he’s either fired or resigned and got some of his money. Basically, he’s gone. The question is did they settle on an amount of money or not?

Nick:                         That’s why we kind of waited to report. I’m writing a story. It’ll be up on Sunday, so hopefully you’ve read that by the time you’re listening to this. It’s basically an autopsy of two months ago the University of Florida and the UAA is putting out stuff comparing Jim McElwain to Steve Spurrier, because of the record in SEC games to start their career. Two months later, Jim McElwain doesn’t have a job. How does that happen?

What really happened is the infrastructure, the foundation was already cracked. The relationship between the administration and Jim McElwain was already cracked. Florida got leverage on Monday when Jim McElwain erroneously talked about death threats. Florida got leverage. The longer you wait, the less powerful that leverage becomes. They really took the opportunity to say, Jeremey Foley is saying, “What must eventually be done should be done now.” Something like that. They took the opportunity of, “Listen, we have leverage now. We’re not going to have it later. We don’t want to pay him $12.5 million.” They tell him, and they tell his agent, “We’re going to fire him for cause. We think we have enough to fire him for cause. We would like to give you an opportunity. Let’s reach a settlement. Let’s find a number that we can both stomach.”

When you’re in negotiation, the best ending to a negotiation is nobody is in love with the result, but you find something that is palatable, something that you can both stomach. What they were doing Sunday was trying to find a number that Florida could agree on, and that Jim McElwain and his agent could agree on, that isn’t $12.5, or $12.9 when you prorate what he’s owed for the rest of this season. As we’re taping this now, we still don’t know if they’ve come to that term, if they’ve come to that number. They might not.

Andrew:                 Nick, let’s just kind of break down where this came about. First off, let me say my thoughts real quick on Jim McElwain. Then, Nick, you can say your things. Jim McElwain was always that quirky, weird personality kind of in the media. Outside of the media room, Jim McElwain’s a fine human being, Nick. I think you would agree with me. He’s a good person, cares about his players, loyal to a fault, probably one of the reasons we’re talking about this today. Very knowledgeable about football. This is not a question of is he a good football coach or not, like Will Muschamp. This is totally different.

At the end of the day, Nick, and I think this is the headline that is going to be read, and should be read, and that is Jim McElwain just wasn’t a fit for the University of Florida. His personality and Florida’s personality just didn’t connect. The fanbase didn’t connect with him. Outside of that, there is nothing to say. He’s a good person. He’s not a bad person. He’s not a bad human being. There was some disconnect between him and the people in the UAA, and I know some people say he’s hard to work with and that kind of stuff. Maybe that is true to an extent, but he’s not a bad person. He’s not a bad human being, like some people are trying to make him out to be.

Nick:                         No. I feel like the pressure got to him this year, and everything that mounted kind of got to him this year. I feel like he wasn’t his normal happy-go-lucky self most times this year. I felt like he kind of changed a little bit this year, but not saying that he’s a bad person. Just saying he was kind of more abrasive this year. I think the pressure got to him, and that it kind of broke him down.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s another thing. We continue to talk about him not being happy, and he wasn’t. He wasn’t, Nick. It goes back to a couple things. You and I talked about this, the credit card thing beat him down. More than anything, more than him losing them and the field, it beat him down that those guys as people did that. That’s the stuff that beats him down. Everyone can claim to be a player’s coach, but, Nick, you and I both know that Jim McElwain’s a player’s coach. You see guys that don’t play, or guys that are talked about in the media, they’re responding on Twitter, that kind of stuff. Everyone loved Jim McElwain. Jim McElwain is a good person.

Nick:                         He’s a good guy. He cares about his players a lot, and you’ll see that totally in the way that his players react. Listen, man, Muschamp. Players liked Muschamp too. It happens.

Andrew:                 Muschamp wasn’t a good coach, and that’s the difference. That is the difference here, Nick. Jim McElwain’s a fine coach. Will Muschamp’s not.

Nick:                         He’s having success right now.

Andrew:                 What do you call success, Nick? I call success about getting to Atlanta and winning. Jim McElwain didn’t win. At least he gets to Atlanta.

Nick:                         Let’s not say at least he gets there.

Andrew:                 I mean, he gets there, Nick. Will Muschamp, he’s in the same conference, and let’s be honest. The East didn’t get worse or get better when Will Muschamp was there. It was the same shitty East when Will Muschamp was there. Georgia wasn’t world beaters. Missouri, for God’s sakes, was there two years in a row and didn’t make it. That’s the way I’m thinking about it. Let’s just go there.

Here’s the thing. In my opinion, this was the best move, and I say that being a McElwain supporter. I haven’t backed down. Nick makes fun of me all the time, because he calls him my boy.

Nick:                         That’s your boy, Jimmy Mac and Andrew Spivey.

Andrew:                 I don’t back down from that. Watched him at Alabama, all that kind of stuff. I did. People have been mentioning it a little bit on Twitter and stuff, and that is I did kind of say from Day 1 he wasn’t a great recruiter, and he wasn’t. It just is what it is. He wasn’t a good fit, in my opinion.

Nick:                         I think that became pretty apparent. I think it became pretty apparent that he wasn’t a fit at Florida, and I think there was almost instant buyer’s remorse with some of the guys. Not as far as anything on the field, as far as him personally. As far as him, he comes out, and he took some tongue in cheek shots at Jeremy Foley. I don’t think those sat well with Jeremy Foley.

After the first year that they get to Atlanta, he says, “I think everyone sees the commitment we’re putting into our program. I hope the university puts that same commitment into the program that we are.” Hey, you know that there’s a $100 million project in the works. You know that. There’s no need to air that out trying to pit yourself against them. You know what the plans are, and you’re involved in the plans. Why make that public? I love it, because I like to write about it. That’s a good quote, one of the better quotes we got from him. From a UAA standpoint, there’s no reason to talk about that. You know what the plans are. Just because they haven’t been made public yet, but you know what the plans are, why are you talking about it?

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing. There’s two sides to that. When he first brought up that thing with Jeremy Foley, it was to get Jeremy Foley to open his eyes. The second part of it, the $100 million, I do agree with you. There was no sense of doing it, but at the same time you needed to put something out for the recruits to see.

Now, here’s another thing I will say, and that is facilities are part of the reason that you haven’t been able to recruit well, but also his first staff. Nick, you and I talk about this. We’ll talk about it more in a second. Loyal to a fault has cost him. Greg Nord, terrible recruiter. Doug Nussmeier, terrible recruiter. Mike Summers, terrible recruiter. When you look at some of these guys that he brought on, they were terrible recruiters. Kirk Callahan was a terrible recruiter from Day 1. His first staff, and the way he assembled his staff, in my opinion, was flawed. He did an amazing job upgrading in the off season, bringing in Ja’Juan Seider, but you can still really argue Ja’Juan Seider and Tim Skipper are really the two big dogs.

Nick:                         It’s interesting to me, because Skip was a guy that came over with McElwain. Then you wonder, when you start thinking about who will be retained when the new coach comes in, he was a McElwain guy. I think what really helps Skip is that you can kind of put him anywhere. He can coach linebackers. I’d feel comfortable with him coaching linebackers, tight ends, special teams coordinator, running backs. I think you can kind of put him anywhere. Then there’s always a thought process of we probably need to have some kind of continuity on the coaching staff.

Then I agree with you. Listen, Ja’Juan Seider, universally thought of as not only a great recruiter, but also a great coach. I think he’s another guy that, no matter who the coach is. Here’s another thing. I think Florida will go to more of a spread kind of system. To me, it’s unfathomable. You brought in two consecutive coaches who want to run pro-style systems. Name me, Andrew, and you know the state of Florida high school football, name me a school in Florida that doesn’t run some semblance or some version of the spread offense?

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s the thing. I say this.

Nick:                         What are you doing, man? Just recruit your state. You’re in one of the three best states in terms of talent. Recruit your state. You’re trying to make an offense that isn’t what these kids are doing for four years in high school.

Andrew:                 That’s the thing. That has been a key, and something that a lot of people talk about. Listen, you’re not finding meat and potato offensive linemen like you do in Nebraska in Florida. You’re just not. That’s something that they have to do. It’s a couple things. I say this, and it’s going to pick on Randy Shannon, and I plan on having a segment here in a few minutes to really hit on that subject. Stop with this recruiting the low guys to develop those guys.

The University of Florida is not here to develop people. It’s not here to develop people. This is not a program like USF, where you develop them, and you get them to be seniors, and you have this great senior class, and then you go into restock mode. No. No. That ain’t the way things go at the University of Florida. You’ve got to stop recruiting these two-star guys out of Miami, because Randy Shannon thinks he can develop them. No. Stop that. You’re the University of Florida. You’re one of the top five institutions in America. Go act like it. Go act like it.

That’s a downfall, I think, right now for Mac. When you start to look at the depth, that’s all these guys. Nick, I think this kind of parlays into your discussion about sometimes freshmen not being ready. It’s because those are guys that are supposed to be developing, as Mac says. A couple people have told me, “Feleipe Franks isn’t supposed to be playing this year. He’s a redshirt sophomore. He should be riding pine. Will Grier should be playing.” Okay. Grier should be playing, but two years in the system, and you’re not ready? You’re not ready?

Nick:                         That’s got to be on both parties. I put blame on Franks, and I put blame on the coaching staff there.

Andrew:                 Right. You see what I’m saying? This developmental process that they have is crazy. I do blame some of it on the recruiting staff as well. Listen, it’s time. You’re the University of Florida. Go make things happen.

Nick:                         It’s been kind of a mixed bag, but I think the beginning of the end of Jim McElwain’s era was telling Will Grier that I think a split is best for both parties. I get all the stuff that was going on.

Andrew:                 Let’s air out the dirty laundry on Will Grier, because everybody’s gone now. You and I were both told by how many people that came in with Jim McElwain from Day 1 that they didn’t like him? That they liked Treon Harris more than Will Grier? You remember that. People that are still on staff now who said it.

Nick:                         That’s dumb. I’m not saying you’re wrong. Yes. That’s dumb.

Andrew:                 You remember these conversations where certain people there were doing that. That is the stuff that is there. Why I say loyal to a fault. Jim McElwain, had he heard these statements, he should have been like, “Listen, this is not your job. You don’t coach the quarterback position. Go back into your room and hide out and play on the computer and watch film and do everything else. Don’t talk about you don’t like the quarterback.”

There’s a lot of coaches in America that don’t like their players, but if they’re producing, it’s okay. Was Will Grier a different animal? Yes. He was arrogant at times. He was cocky at times. He lived the Hollywood style life at times, but he won football games. To be honest with you, Nick, you and I loved him. He wasn’t a prick to us. There’s some guys on this team now who likes to talk the smack and call out the fans.

Nick:                         You would have never gotten that. Listen, Will Grier, whatever he did off the field, and if you want to say he took steroids knowingly, even if he did that, there’s guys that have done a lot worse, and they’ve gotten second chances.

Andrew:                 Antonio Callaway has done a hell of a lot worse than Will Grier has. I would much rather him do that than the crimes he’s been accused of.

Nick:                         It comes down to it. They made a decision. They thought they could get by with Treon Harris, and they had Luke Del Rio waiting. That was their decision. Listen, there’s back story with Luke Del Rio too. Doug Nussmeier’s known Luke since he was a little kid. Nussmeier was playing with the Saints when Jack Del Rio was starting his coaching career with the Saints. He’s known Luke his entire life. You went with somebody who you had some allegiance to, and that’s fine. You made your bed.

Do I think Florida would be a College Football Playoff team with Will Grier? No. They’d be better. They’d be a much better offense with Will Grier at quarterback. I’m just saying. We don’t need to drag the Will Grier thing out too long, but, in my opinion, that was the beginning of the end for Jim McElwain’s tenure at Florida. The game is based so much on what your quarterback can do for you. You had a guy who you knew. Yes, Will Grier played probably five great quarters, and at other times he’s running out of bounds, behind the line of scrimmage when he’s scrambling. He was a redshirt freshman, and he was making mistakes.

Yes, he’s a product of the West Virginia system. They don’t really play defense in the Big 12. West Virginia likes to throw the ball all over the place, but he’s being given freedom to check plays at the line of scrimmage, and you’re seeing what Will Grier can do when he’s developed. Would Nussmeier and McElwain have developed him? I don’t know. Can’t say that for sure. I stand by 100% that Will Grier would make this Florida football team a better team.

Andrew:                 Here’s another thing for me, Nick. I don’t know if last year’s team is not a playoff team with Will Grier, because there’s good players around this team. Someone told me today. They said, “Listen, the future has some bright spots here. There is some good players. Georgia’s not that much better than we are.” That was someone in there saying we, as in Florida, for them. How many times have you and I talked about quarterback? We can hit this all day long, but Doug Nussmeier and Jim McElwain are getting fired for poor offense, and it was poor offensive production, but you and I both agree that at times it was pretty damn good game plan. The quarterback was just not able to read it and do it.

Now, it goes back to the coaches not finding a quarterback. It goes back to the whole decision of not letting Dwayne Haskins know that a quarterback was going to commit, when another quarterback wanted to come, and that kind of stuff. It all goes back to recruiting as well, and it all goes back to your coaching staff in the very beginning. You can’t hire your friends in this business and expect to succeed. There was just too many guys that were on the coaching staff that didn’t belong there, and there’s still some guys that don’t belong there now.

It just is what it is. McElwain’s an offensive minded guy. I think he is, but you have to have guys teaching the position, and he didn’t. He was working basically with one coach last year in Tim Skipper, and now you can argue this year he’s working with two in Ja’Juan Seider and Brad Davis.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’s tough to think and project. I really liked the hirings, specifically Seider and Davis, and now it’s kind of like … I had a friend. I’ll tell a quick story. I had a friend who was playing football at Notre Dame on scholarship when Brian Kelly got to Notre Dame. Charlie Weis was fired, and Brian Kelly got there. In his first meeting after his recruiting class, Kelly had all the players who were there recruited by Weis stand up, and he said, “You got a past coaching staff fired. I’m not going to let you do that to me.”

Kind of a dick move, but is that the kind of attitude that the next coach comes in? Looks at this coaching staff as like, you got a guy fired who went to back to back SEC Championships. You’re not my coaches. You know what I mean? I think some of those coaches on Florida’s staff deserve to stay. They have great recruiting ties. They’ve been great recruiters, and they’re good coaches, but you have to wonder. Florida’s been pining after Ja’Juan Seider for years. Are you only going to get one year of him?

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s a good point. It’s like I said. You got to surround yourself with great recruiters. Here’s another thing. It doesn’t so much take a great recruiter, but someone who can build relationships and talk to these kids, to do this. It’s all about relationships and that kind of stuff. Let’s face it, Nick. You’re not committing to Mike Summers. You’re not committing to Greg Nord. What do we have in common with them? You and I are older. I say older. You’re in your late 20s. I’m just turned 30. Only think you and I can talk about with Greg Nord is maybe fishing a little bit. After a few minutes, that talk gets boring.

Nick:                         Depends. I mean, who was it? Channing Crowder. Channing Crowder was a different kind of cat, man. Greg Nord would have gotten his signature. They would have been talking about fishing all day long. It depends. I know what you’re saying. I’m being hardheaded over here.

Andrew:                 It’s just one of those things. Here’s the thing for me, Nick. Randy Shannon is going to take over as interim coach. I think that is the right move, him taking over as interim coach. Now, people who say he should be looked at as a long time coach is wrong. Wrong. Can’t happen. It’s not ready. It’s not a fit. Quite frankly, Randy Shannon’s time as defensive coordinator head coach is past, especially at a big school like the University of Florida. Nick, you can talk about his defense. I’m going to love to hear your argument for yesterday’s absolute shit show that he put on as a defense. I know you put on Twitter, and I’m going to call you out right now.

Nick:                         Call me out.

Andrew:                 I don’t give a shit. I’m going to call you out. Talk about the players have to do this. The same argument you just gave for Doug Nussmeier and Jim McElwain should be used against Randy Shannon. Feleipe Franks is supposed to do his job. Yes. So is the defense. Okay. Who’s job is it to make them do that job? The defensive coordinator. Not doing his job.

Safety play has been the worst safety I have seen in years at Florida. Don’t give me this about young stuff. Chauncey Gardner has played a whole year and a half now. Nick Washington, same thing. Has been hurt, fine. Jaewon Taylor is another guy that’s an older guy. Fine. Give me all these names. The defense is young at a lot of places and missing some key places, but, Nick, the defensive game plan sucks. It sucks. I don’t care, whatever excuse you’ve got, because I’ve got an argument to tell you back to it. It sucks.

Nick:                         They made some adjustments. I think they held, it was like 30 yards in the 2nd quarter.

Andrew:                 Now we’re just taking little wins here. Good. Okay.

Nick:                         They came out and got punched in the mouth, and I think they made some adjustments, but no. Listen, that’s a very good Georgia defense, but when you’re at the University of Florida, you should have very good defensive players. No excuse really. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses just to make excuses. That’s probably the best offense Florida’s faced this year, and probably will be the best offense they face this year, but to give up almost 400 yards?

Andrew:                 Four passes completed, Nick. Four.

Nick:                         For 101 yards.

Andrew:                 Only one pass to a receiver. 8.3 yards per rush, and someone’s going to say, “Randy didn’t tell them to miss tackles.” Missed tackles haven’t been a problem the last two years. Who’s not coaching tackling well in practice?

Nick:                         Listen, tackling’s tough to coach with all the CTE stuff that’s going on. You don’t see it. You see more missed tackles, I think, around the country, but at the rate that Florida’s missing tackles, not that bad.

Andrew:                 You’re just taking moral victories by the left and right. I mean, I feel like I need to come bring you a sucker, because you got on the podcast. Like a little kid, I need to give you a reward for hopping on and doing your job today, Nick.

Nick:                         Lane Kiffin’s out here following Florida players and coaches now. Just followed Coach Rumph.

Andrew:                 There you go. Take the conversation away, so you can get another moral victory, Nick. You’re not accepting the fact that the guy that you’ve been on me about for three weeks now didn’t do his job again, and it’s okay. It’s okay.

Nick:                         I’m done talking about Randy. I like Randy.

Andrew:                 I like Randy too. 10 years ago.

Nick:                         You did not like Randy 10 years ago. Where was he? He was at Miami 10 years ago? Stinking it up in Miami, that’s why you liked him.

Andrew:                 I liked the players he recruited. I’m a big Ed Reed fan. Love those guys. Ray Lewis. I loved watching those guys play. Here’s the thing. It is simply about that, and it’s also people brought Randy to get back into South Florida. You don’t need Randy to get back into South Florida no more. You have one of the best guys in getting in South Florida in Ja’Juan Seider. It’s okay now. It’s perfectly okay. The micromanaging that Randy Shannon does with those guys is bad. Nick, I’m going to give this analogy that I gave you yesterday, and then I’m going to end this talk. Charlie Weis was pushed on Muschamp. Randy Shannon was pushed on Jim McElwain.

Nick:                         I can get behind that.

Andrew:                 You’re not taking a moral victory here anywhere?

Nick:                         No. I can get that he was pushed on him.

Andrew:                 Okay. At least you took the L there and admitted it. Okay. We’re good there.

Nick, here’s what we expect. We expect Monday Randy Shannon to take the podium as head coach, and I’m going to throw out a big fat prediction. Are you ready for it?

Nick:                         You need a drumroll or something?

Andrew:                 Give me a drumroll.

Nick:                         I think I broke my computer.

Andrew:                 Malik Zaire will be the starting quarterback going into Missouri.

Nick:                         Cool, man. Whatever.

Andrew:                 Can it get worse?

Nick:                         It can always get worse, dude. It can always get worse. Listen, I know Malik Zaire looked good, but they’re up 42-0. Georgia doesn’t care. There’s no 43-point play that Florida’s scoring with Malik Zaire, so they don’t care what he’s doing. They’re playing a prevent defense. They’re letting Florida get chunk yards. They don’t care. Is Feleipe Franks going to win you football games? Probably not.

Sure. Go ahead and do it. I mean, this season’s whatever. It doesn’t matter. This season doesn’t matter. To me. The players are not quitting. The players want to go to a bowl game. Players understand that what they put on film, if they want to go and play in the NFL, that’s what they’re going to get, what is going to get them to that next level. The players are not going to quit playing hard. They’re going to play hard. I just don’t. This season’s a lost cause.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing for me, Nick, with Zaire. I’m with you, and that’s what I was going to say. I don’t believe any of the crap that he looked so great. They were playing second, third, and fourth string. Like you said, they could honestly give a crap, Georgia, at that point. They were more worried about what the party at night was going to be. You look at Nick Chubb and those guys, they were sitting on the sideline celebrating, talking about who’s party they’re going to.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’m not saying Zaire will be bad if he plays. I’m just saying don’t expect him to lead the team down the field like he did on that one drive.

Andrew:                 You saw how bad some of the throws were. The reason I say that, Nick, is this. They need a spark. They need a spark. Giving Zaire that is there. Also, I say this, and I’ve kind of said this all along, and that is Zaire allows the team to do some different things. Right now, at the end, where it’s like you want to get to a bowl game, mix it up a little bit and figure out a way. You got to beat Florida State. If you’re going to beat Florida State ever, this is the year to beat Florida State. That’s big for recruiting as well. I just think mix it up. See what you can do.

You and I both agree, Feleipe Franks isn’t going to be the quarterback next year. I mean, Matt Corral’s going to come in and be that guy. Forcefully, he’s going to have to, because Feleipe has shown he’s not that guy. Why not Zaire? Personally, that’s a hot take for me. I think Randy will announce it. Maybe I’m wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. I’ll take a moral victory.

Nick:                         You’re on another one today.

Andrew:                 Three years. This is what I say to people, and I’ve said it for the last couple weeks, and that is this isn’t fun any more. You’ve got to find a way to make it fun. People are going to ask us, and we’re going to talk about that here in just a second, some of the candidates. Whoever the candidate is, just needs to make sure they’re a good quarterback coach, can get a good quarterback, and can put fun offense on the table again. Florida fans would almost take 55-50 games, even though it would last nine hours, just to see points being scored.

Nick:                         What are those?

Andrew:                 For real. When is the last time Florida scored 50 points in a game? God.

Nick:                         Here you go. Scott Frost and UCF have scored 30 points in seven straight games. Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier’s offense have scored 30 points seven times in 35 games.

Andrew:                 I do have a stat for you, Nick, before I leave.

Nick:                         Hit me.

Andrew:                 Before I leave this segment here. Your good friend, Randy, has given up 106 points out of the locker room in the 1st quarter and the 3rd quarter.

Nick:                         Not great. You’re taking one side of that stat.

Andrew:                 The offense hasn’t done no better.

Nick:                         You’re taking one side of the stat. You got to say also that your boy, Jimmy Mac, hasn’t been really drawing up ball plays in the locker room either.

Andrew:                 First of all, that would be Doug Nussmeier, because he calls the plays. We’re talking about loyal to a fault. Sure. If you want me to take the L on that side of the field, I will. He’s getting fired. Your boy, who you continue to gloat as being so great, because I think you’re talking about 2000, when you were a little kid watching it on the coach on Saturday afternoons after cartoons, isn’t doing good either.

Nick:                         You’re just trying to be hurtful to my feelings now.

Andrew:                 We really love each other, guys. We really love each other. Nick, let’s talk about it. Candidates. I’m going to throw the obvious ones out at you, Nick. Scott Frost at UCF, as you talked about. Dan Mullen, because of his relationship with Scott Strickland. Charlie Strong’s name will come up a little bit, I’m sure. Matt Campbell at Iowa State’s name’s going to come up. Norvell at Memphis’s name is going to come up. Justin, how do you say his last name, Nick? At Virginia Tech.

Nick:                         Fuente.

Andrew:                 Fuente.

Nick:                         You said that so wrong that you threw me off. I was like, wait?

Andrew:                 I have no idea what it is.

Nick:                         It took me a second to be like Fuente. You got me doubting myself, because of how wrong you said it. It was like, was I wrong?

Andrew:                 Anyway. Those are the names. Nick, there was a weird name that you threw out with coaches out on the West Coast, was just in Florida last year, that surprised me.

Nick:                         Willie Taggart.

Andrew:                 I just don’t see it, Nick.

Nick:                         People were quick to point out he’s 5-4 this year, and not doing well in the Pac-12. I think this is what Scott Strickland is looking for. He’s looking for somebody who’s going to run an up-tempo kind of spread offense, and somebody that has a history of developing quarterbacks. I think Taggart, even though it’s limited at USF, has a history of developing quarterbacks, and I think he has an intimate knowledge of what it takes to recruit the state of Florida. He’s going to run an offense that suits the players that you’re going to find in your backyard, which you haven’t had since Urban Meyer was here.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Can’t you find, I don’t know, Nick. I said this. Maybe I’m just wrong. Willie Taggart was good at UCF, or USF. That’s all fine, but I think you can go bigger. I think you can do better. I like the Scott Frost thing. We’ve had people tell us that he might want to stay in Florida, where his family is being raised. His wife likes it there. He feels like he can go back to Nebraska any old time. Here’s another thing. It’s not going to be easy to recruit those guys he likes to recruit up in Nebraska. They have big old hosses up there.

Nick:                         It’s interesting. There is no argument against this statement. Florida is a better job than Nebraska. There is no argument to that. He didn’t go there initially. He went to Stanford and transferred out and went to Nebraska, but he loves the University of Nebraska. That’s his alma mater. This is stuff I’m getting from people that are close to UCF, close to Scott Frost. Hates to see the state of where that program is right now. If you’re Florida, listen, you’re going to have to pay him a bunch of money, which you’re fine with, but you also, I think, need to protect yourself. Because what buyout do you need to feel comfortable with to give this guy a job, if you don’t feel comfortable that if the Nebraska job opens up in two years, does he leave and take it?

Andrew:                 I don’t think so. I think he’s a guy that if he got to Florida and built it up well that he wouldn’t. I can see your argument with that as well. I’m going to be honest. The guy I really, really like is Matt Campbell at Iowa State.

Nick:                         You’re winning football games in Ames, Iowa. That is not an easy place.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Exciting guy. Only thing I will say is people say he’s a little corny. Can they handle that again?

Nick:                         I don’t know. I don’t know if I can. I don’t know how many turnip trucks and Claribel comments I can go through.

Andrew:                 There’s names that, like I said, are going to be thrown out. Virginia Tech, he’s from there. That’s his alma mater as well. Going to be tough to get him away. People are talking about PJ Fleck. That’s a name I’m sure is going to come up a little.

Nick:                         Row the boat.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I’m sure that name’s going to come up a little bit. Brohm at Purdue may come up some. There’s several names that have come up. People are saying, “Do they have a plan?” They don’t have a plan right now. They have a list. They don’t have a guy yet. They don’t. It’s just not possible. Has Strickland probably started putting out some feelers? I’m sure.

Nick:                         Yes.

Andrew:                 Anything further than that, I would say probably not.

Nick:                         Remember, no coach has been offered a job until they’ve accepted the job. When we hear, “We have not talked to anybody. We have not offered the job to anybody.” Listen, Florida will never have a situation where they are publicly turned down by somebody, because until they have a backdoor handshake agreement that, yes, I am accepting the job, then they’ve never “offered” it. Multiple people, agents, representatives, coaches, multiple people will be talked to. They’re not honing in on one person. The quotes will be, “We will find one person.” When the coach is hired, it’s “We never looked at anyone else.” Yada, yada, yada. Multiple people will be looked at and vetted, interviewed, talked to, to see what their fit would be, what their interest is.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s what I was going to say. Is Scott Frost talking to Scott Strickland personally? No. Probably not. His agent’s probably talking to Strickland. Then, if Scott’s telling his agent he’s interested, then they may start to have that talk. No. Scott’s probably talking to people that he knows that’s at Florida or that kind of stuff. That’s the way it goes about, and it’s always going to go about.

Now, here’s the thing for me. Florida needs to figure it out quickly after the season, because right around the corner, December 20, Florida has early Signing Day. That is huge for this recruiting class, with up to seven or eight guys potentially going to sign early, including that quarterback, Mattie Ice.

Nick:                         I know you talked to some guys today. Tell me, and tell the podcast listeners, currently. Everything could change. We’re talking about 17, 18-year-old kids. Currently, what is the attitude among the ’18 class?

Andrew:                 The most part it’s all positive. Randy Russell is a guy who has been kind of that leader on the defensive class for Florida, and Matt Corral’s kind of been that guy on the offensive side of the ball. They said that they both talked this morning, and then they’re all in a group text with all the commits, and they said that they didn’t commit to Florida for just a coach. They committed because of the love, and then the opportunity. That’s what they keep saying, the opportunity. They said they plan to stick together, and that they all said that they feel like they can bring something special, and they’re going to stick together.

Now, listen, they can say that now. That’s fine and dandy. Other coaches are going to be calling. They’re going to fill their heads with crap and offer them that same opportunity and everything else. You got to wait till the coach comes. When the new coach comes, that’s there. Listen, this with Matt Corral. Matt Corral knows Florida has no quarterback. Whoever comes in, Scott Frost, Charlie Strong, Willie Taggart, whoever it is, they’re not signing a free agent quarterback and bringing him with them. They still have no quarterback. Matt Corral knows that.

Nick:                         Yup. Here’s the thing, and you told me this. I’ll say it. Matt Corral came on his official visit, watched Feleipe Franks play quarterback, looked at the depth chart, and started drooling.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         When you’re a five-star quarterback, when you’re a quarterback like that, you have this arrogance about you. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s kind of like Saban has an arrogance, and Urban Meyer is arrogant. I’m sure Dabo Sweeney has some arrogance to him. People who are elite at what they do have this cockiness and have this arrogance. It’s what allows them to be great. Tim Tebow is arrogant at times, and can be cocky, if you’re talking about his football play. He’s this God-fearing human being, very genuine person. Matt Corral looks at this situation and goes, “I’m the piece they’re missing.”

Andrew:                 Right. I think that’s what people need to separate here. We all talk about Feleipe Franks, and I don’t want to keep harping on Feleipe. He’s a kid. He’s doing his best, but when you look at Feleipe Franks he doesn’t ooze confidence. That’s bad out of a quarterback. That’s really bad. We talk about Will Grier, and I hate to bring his name up. He oozed confidence. He did. He knew he was going to be successful. Whether he was or not, he knew he was. He believed he was.

That’s the same thing with Matt Corral. I mean, you want that out of a quarterback. You look at some of the guys Steve Spurrier had, and some of the guys Urban and these guys have. They know they’re going to be successful. They talk the talk, and that’s exactly what it is. You should be. You should be confident. Look at Jake Fromm at Georgia. He knows he’s going to be confident. Hell, when he was getting recruited, he was telling people he was going to take Jacob Eason’s job, and people laughed at him.

Nick:                         And?

Andrew:                 He took his job, and throw a slant on Chauncey Gardner.

Nick:                         He was throwing more than slants.

Andrew:                 Yes. He did. Nick, we’ll get out. We’ll see everyone on Wednesday. We’ll get back to talking about Missouri. Should be a fun one up in Columbia, up in the high school stadium. Nick, you’ll be making that little travel up there. We’ll get back. Continue to check out the message boards. Nick and I, I feel like we’ve done a good job. Our man KC and several other insiders on the board have done a great job of really keeping people up to speed.

Nick:                         That’s the thing with Gator Country. It’s not just us. We’ve got a great connection and community of insiders and people, not even just the insiders, a great group of people there on the message boards.

Andrew:                 Yeah. While we were on the phone, Nick and I get a message, and can’t really spill the beans on what that is, but it was something about someone knowing someone that could potentially be involved in the hiring process. That’s another thing. We don’t post all of our stuff in stories. A lot of it goes on the message board. Right now is a great time to get over there to us. Hit that message on either Nick or I’s Twitter, and we’ll get you that coupon code. Come check us out. Basketball season is right around the corner as well. We got our man, Eric, putting out the content there. Nick, why don’t you tell the people where they can find us?

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form, in case you like reading it instead. You can find the podcast on iTunes as well. Search @GatorCountry. Leave us a comment. Leave us a little five-star rating. Subscribe. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. Follow us. @NickdelaTorreGC, @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. We appreciate it again, everyone. It’s going to be a long ride. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. When a new coaching staff comes, it’s always the greatest thing in the world that day. Here’s another thing, Nick, and I wanted to say. I feel like it needs to be said. Jimmy Mac and the rest of the coaching staff makes a hell of a lot of money. These guys don’t. We can harp on these guys like we do about their playing and that stuff, but they didn’t sign up for this coaching change either. They do play hard, 90% of them do. They deserve to finish the season strong.

Nick:                         Yeah. Support your guys. Hopefully they come out and play inspired. There’s a lot of guys on this team that have worked really hard, and they’re not going to quit, even though this is not how they envisioned the season to go.

Andrew:                 Exactly. I just see people taking shots at players, saying “Thanks for costing him his job.” Like I said, it just is not fair to those guys. There’s a lot of guys that worked hard to be in the position they are, and they deserve that chance. Anyway, we’ll get out. We’ll see everyone on Wednesday. As always, guys, we appreciate it. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree with the assertion that Franks won’t work next year. I wouldn’t bet on it. I’ve seen how many QB transfers go to other schools and all of a sudden set records? 6 of them so far. I agree of all of those, we knew Will would do well at WV, but remember how bad Driskel was at Florida? Same issues as Franks, actually mirror images, and he goes to LaTech and sets all kinds of records and in months is able to do all of the things he couldn’t do here. Same with Franks. I see extreme potential there and I think when he transfers, don’t laugh, I wouldn’t be shocked if he has a Heisman-like season the year after. What I am saying is Muschamp is not the QB Whisperer he was made out to be. Maybe at Colorado St where in that conference there are no quality defenses. Outside of QB transfers, what QB under Mac ever improved?