In a highly unorthodox move reminiscent of the Lindsay Lohan smash movie “Freaky Friday,” UF President Kent Fuchs and Gators head football Coach Jim McElwain are trading jobs — permanently, the Alligator learned.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources in the UF administration close to the decision say the move is the result of Fuchs exercising a little-known clause in his employment contract. The clause, apparently inserted by Cornell’s legal team, states that Fuchs retains the right to swap jobs with anyone else at the university he chooses for as long as he wants.
Fuchs said he opted to exercise the option after learning he would not have a reserved parking spot behind Tigert Hall.
“Coach McElwain has a wonderful space right inside the stadium,” he said. “It’s mine now. You want to talk about preeminence? That’s preeminence. Not only that, it cuts at least 90 seconds off my morning commute.”
“Besides,” Fuchs added, “being president is nice and all, but frankly it’s a lot more dull than I thought it would be. I’ve been in higher education for a long time, plus I’m an engineer. I could use a little excitement in my life.”
Though he admits his experience with athletics is “somewhat limited, although I did play middle-school basketball when I was growing up in Alaska,” Fuchs said he’s been giving a new game plan plenty of thought and is eager to roll out ideas he believes will revolutionize the game.
For instance, he said, one bedrock of the research world would translate well onto the gridiron: the peer review process.
“Here’s my idea,” he said. “I’d like to submit our playbook to the coaches of the teams we’ll be playing this Fall. If they think our plays will work, then we’re in good shape. Isn’t that brilliant?”
Along those same lines, Fuchs said he’s hit on a way to overhaul the Gators offense.
“Take the hurry-up offense. Why is everyone in such a hurry?” he said. “I propose something I call the shared-governance offense. Before each play, the line discusses the merits of each possible play they could run. Then they put it up for a vote. Sure, each game might take a little longer, but we’ll be in a much more collegial place in the long run.”
At least one faculty member who asked not be named expressed concern over Fuchs’ new role.
“What am I going to have to do now to get tenure and promotion?” she said. “Sell boiled peanuts outside the stadium?”
McElwain was immediately on board with the idea and wasted no time exercising his new authority. His first project: commencement, which will be held in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this spring.
“I’m thinking we skip the stage for the graduates to walk across,” he said. “Now picture this: Instead, we have them run out of the tunnel while the band plays the fight song. Of course, they might trip on those gowns they wear — I need to work on that. Maybe we put them all in uniforms. Then, just to make things interesting, we bring in a T-shirt cannon and fire rolled-up diplomas out into the crowd.”
Also on his agenda: a solution for UF’s perennial parking woes.
“Why make people buy parking permits? I say we handle it just like we do tailgating. Let people park wherever they want. Everything is fair game — sidewalks, lawns, Plaza of the Americas. Heck, the pickups can even park on the steps of Tigert Hall. Better get here early, though; the best spots go fast.”
Motivating faculty to accomplish even greater things is yet another item McElwain plans to address.
“For the first professor who brings home a Nobel Prize, I will personally give them a Gatorade bath,” he said. “Shoot, who wouldn’t want that? Who cares about a trip to Stockholm? All right, faculty, now get out there and win one!”
The switch-up has drawn mixed reviews among students.
“Um, who thought that was a good idea?” said Ugada Bejoshin, a 26-year-old graduate student.
But Ima Kiddin, a 20-year-old junior from Miami, said she’s excited.
“Awesome!” she said. “Can Coach Fuchs get me some good seats?”
Editor’s Note: April Fools
[A version of this story ran on page 1 - 3 on 4/1/2015 under the headline “Fuchs takes field, McElwain takes paycut”]
Now football coach Kent Fuchs teaches the revamped plays to the Gators. “Take the hurry-up offense,” he said during the session. “Why is everyone in such a hurry?”
President Jim McElwain reflects on changes he wants to make to on-campus parking.