Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Thursday, January 27, 2022

Jim McElwain, Gary Pinkel to meet again when Gators face Tigers

<p>Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel watches his team warm up before the start of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)</p>

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel watches his team warm up before the start of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

At first glance, Florida coach Jim McElwain and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel seem to have taken separate directions in their coaching careers without ever interacting with one another.

However, Saturday will not be the first time both of their paths will cross.

When McElwain was at Eastern Washington, he said he used go watch the University of Washington’s practices — where Pinkel was the wide receivers coach and eventually the offensive coordinator — to see how the Huskies operated their football program.

"He won’t even remember it, obviously, because I was at a little place, Eastern Washington," McElwain said.

"Went there as often as we could to study how they run their program, how they coach when he was a receiver coach and then became an offensive coordinator."

But, Pinkel said he does remember McElwain — who was a graduate assistant and eventually the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach at Eastern Washington — coming out to see the Huskies practice in the late 1980s.

"It was a long time ago. I have great respect for him," Pinkel said.

"He’s doing a great job with the program. There’s nothing easy about building any program, and obviously they started off really well."

McElwain echoed the same sentiments about Pinkel.

McElwain went into a little bit more depth as to why he would always go and observe Washington’s practices.

The Huskies were a winning program under coach Don James as they went 67-26-2 from 1985-1992 and split a national title with the University of Miami in 1991.

"I’ve got the utmost respect obviously for him and how he runs his program," McElwain said.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

"We tried to emulate a lot of things that coach James did in those 11 years or whatever it was coaching at Eastern because, let’s face it, they were one of the kings of college football at that time."

The two also share another connection with another coach in the Southeastern Conference: Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Saban and Pinkel both went to Kent State with the Missouri coach playing tight end and the Alabama coach playing defensive back.

Both would end up being a part of the Kent State coaching staff as Pinkel would be a student and graduate assistant from 1974-75, while Saban was on the Golden Flashes’ staff from 1972-76.

"Obviously, he and coach Saban were together under that, so I’m sure there were a lot of similarities in how they go about their daily business, and it shows up on film," McElwain said.

Florida’s coach made a name for himself as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Saban’s Crimson Tide from 2008-11.

McElwain would end up winning two national titles — 2009 and 2011 — while he was at Alabama before becoming the head coach at Colorado State.

But now, Saturday will be the first time the two will meet on the field against each other as head coaches of their respective football programs when Florida takes on Missouri.

The Gators are coming off a huge upset win against then-No. 3 Ole Miss and will have plenty of confidence as they play in their second road game of the season.

Meanwhile, the Tigers look to build on their 24-10 win against South Carolina last week.

UF hasn’t had the firepower on offense the last couple of times the two teams have played, but Pinkel is aware that this Florida team is different.

"You can see the enthusiasm of the players and you can also see the confidence level of the team increasing after a big win last week," Pinkel said.

"It will be a great challenge for us and we’re excited about the opportunity and working really hard to play our best."

 Follow Luis Torres on Twitter @LFTorresIII

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel watches his team warm up before the start of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.