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Monday, June 24, 2024

After blowout loss, Gators coach Jim McElwain addresses rumors of firing

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-24d48320-65d9-4cff-5471-3eff315e1383"><span id="docs-internal-guid-24d48320-65d9-4cff-5471-3eff315e1383">Reports by ESPN state that UF boosters believe they may be able to avoid paying the full buyout because of coach Jim McElwain’s claim Monday that threats, including some death threats, had been leveled against Florida players, coaches and their families.</span></span></p>

Reports by ESPN state that UF boosters believe they may be able to avoid paying the full buyout because of coach Jim McElwain’s claim Monday that threats, including some death threats, had been leveled against Florida players, coaches and their families.

Gators coach Jim McElwain knew something was wrong before the game even started. Walking into Florida’s pregame meal, he was informed of rumors that he could be losing his job.

“I was surprised as anybody when I was going to team dinner today,” McElwain said after a 42-7 defeat to No. 3 Georgia. “Those eggs didn’t taste real good.”

After the game wasn’t any easier. Questions about his job security hit him one after another at what some speculate could have been his last postgame news conference.

Would it surprise him if he was fired tomorrow?

“Nothing in this world surprises (me),” UF’s third-year coach said. “I know what I was brought here to do. Look, we haven’t been good on offense. I get it. We’ve won a few games, but we haven’t won enough, haven’t won a championship. That’s real. That’s life. That is this business, and I take full responsibility for all of it.”

After earning SEC East titles in his first two seasons, the Gators (3-4, 3-3 SEC) were mathematically eliminated from a three-peat on Saturday.

Rumors of McElwain’s departure swirled Saturday morning after UF alumnus and lawyer Darren Heitner tweeted that a source told him Gators boosters are pooling money to afford McElwain’s $12.9 million buyout.

Reports by ESPN state that UF boosters believe they may be able to avoid paying the full buyout because of McElwain’s claim Monday that threats, including some death threats, had been leveled against Florida players, coaches and their families. According to an unnamed source, McElwain’s contract includes a requirement to notify UF administrators if a player’s life is threatened, which it appears McElwain failed to do before talking about the threats in Monday’s news conference.

After Florida’s loss to Georgia, UF’s first in three years, McElwain acknowledged that he hadn’t met UF’s expectations.

“We were all brought here to win, and we haven't done it,” he said.

Two Florida players, quarterback Feleipe Franks and safety Chauncey Gardner, did their best to avoid answering questions concerning McElwain’s job security.

“Like I said, I’m not really gonna entertain that question,” Franks said. “I’m not an athletic director, I don’t know.”

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“I think he’s a great coach and he cares about his players, and it goes beyond football,” Franks said.

After Saturday’s loss, McElwain’s record as UF’s head coach moved to 22-12. And while McElwain was plain spoken about his uncertainty after the game, he made it clear that if it was up to him, he would like to remain in charge of the Gators.

“This is a dream job,” he said. “It's a great place. It's great fans. Great support. The resource is there to win. Obviously, I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to deliver in the time I've been here.”

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