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Monday, December 04, 2023
<p>New head football coach Jim McElwain speaks at his opening press conference in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.</p>

New head football coach Jim McElwain speaks at his opening press conference in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Jim McElwain has the experience.

After coaching on the offensive side of the ball for 29 years with eight different teams, he knows the ropes.

From pro-style offense to spread, he’s covered his bases.

And on Saturday, during his first press conference as Florida’s newest head football coach, McElwain — sporting a black jacket, orange tie and Gator pin — was quick to tell the more than 100 members of the media inside the Norm Carlson Press Box at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that he will use his pedigree to do whatever is needed to win.

"I’m that dog they dropped off down at the humane society and he has about a little bit of every breed in it," McElwain said. "Whatever the situation is, you try to bring that breed out that helps success."

McElwain has the responsibility of freeing a Florida offense that has been in the doghouse for the past four years. In the Will Muschamp era, the Gators never ranked better than 94th in total offense or 67th in yards per play.

McElwain has the confidence he will be successful with whatever talent he has on hand.

"I believe I can win with my dog Claire-a-bell," McElwain said. "That’s the attitude."

And while McElwain has seen his share of offensive success in his time — most recently his three years as the head coach at Colorado State and his four years as Alabama’s offensive coordinator before that — there’s only one statistic that matters to him: the wins.

"At the end of the day, whether you have two yards on offense or 900 yards on offense, win the game, right?" McElwain said. "I always get a kick out of all these people that love their statistics. Let’s look at the win and loss. That’s the overall thing for a program and organization to be successful."

UF athletics director Jeremy Foley said McElwain epitomized the criteria laid out when he announced the head coach search three weeks ago: He has a track record for offensive success and is a high-integrity and high-character individual.

"He’ll do the right thing every day," Foley said. That’s who he is as a person."

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After meeting with McElwain in his house just outside of Fort Collins, Colorado, on Tuesday, Foley knew McElwain was the answer.

"Besides the X’s and O’s and the integrity and all those other things, you’ve got to want this job. ... It was very evident for me, especially after I talked to Mac on Sunday after we played FSU, he really, really wanted to be here," Foley said. "And then you add all the criteria we talked about, it put him to the top very, very quickly."

McElwain knew this was an opportunity he couldn’t afford to pass up, even if it meant he had to spend $2 million of his own money to get a deal done.

"To be able to have that opportunity is something I’m not sure I could have lived with, given that opportunity and letting it pass by. I’m not one to ever let things pass by," McElwain said. "I kind of roll up my sleeves and go get it done and that’s what it’s really all about."

And while Foley needed to make sure McElwain was the right person to lead his football team, McElwain said the path went both ways.

"As he did the research on me, I did the research on him now, OK. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday, all right," McElwain said. "Every person I talked to spoke of integrity, quality, great person to be with."

The pressure will be high for McElwain, but that’s not stopping him.

"If there’s no pressure," he said, "why wake up in the morning?"

Follow Jordan McPherson on Twitter @J_McPherson1126

New head football coach Jim McElwain speaks at his opening press conference in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

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