Dominoes must fall before McElwain fills staff

By Adam Silverstein
December 22, 2014

Updated on Tuesday at 1:30 a.m.

It has been nearly three full weeks since Jim McElwain was hired as the new head coach of the Florida Gators – 18 days to be exact – yet the exact makeup of his coaching staff remains largely unresolved. According to McElwain, it will remain that way for at least another week…or possibly three.

To this point, little is known about who will join McElwain in Gainesville, Florida, though he told Tampa Bay’s WDAE 620 AM on Monday that the process is “going really well.”

The one hire he did make – pulling defensive coordinator Geoff Collins from the same role at Mississippi State – has received widespread praise, but McElwain still has a ways for to go with eight additional coaching positions to fill.

So what exactly is taking so long?

McElwain is targeting a number of coaches who have yet to see their seasons come to an end, including what appears to be more than one working in the professional ranks.

“Obviously we’ve got guys that are currently in major bowl games that will probably jump on board and then some guys obviously that still have an NFL game or maybe even some playoff games left. So we’re being patient,” he explained during the radio hit.

The NFL regular season ends in one week, while every bowl game except the College Football Playoff Championship will be played in two week’s time. Of course, considering McElwain coached at Alabama and is believed to be targeting one or two Crimson Tide staffers for promotions, the wait to have a 100 percent finalized coaching staff could extend to three weeks. And if he is hoping to pull in an assistant from an NFL team set to make the playoffs, obviously the delay could extend even longer.

In a second radio interview later on Monday, this time with Jacksonville’s 1010 XL, McElwain insinuated that fans could expect to hear at least a few staff additions come to fruition sooner than later.

“You’ll start to see some guys trickle in as we finish some bowl games and the NFL season and then really get after it right after the first of the year,” he said.

There are other concerns McElwain has while building a staff, such as quality, familiarity and overall fit. He wants his first Gators coaching staff to be a well-oiled machine from the start rather than a patchwork accumulation of random parts.

“The one thing, a piece of advice I’ve gotten from many head coaches over the years, was the one thing you got to do is make sure you get that staff right. Be patient, make sure it checks all the boxes with recruiting ties, with coaching ability and obviously with like thinkers, guys that don’t have separate agendas and aren’t independent contractors,” he told the Tampa Bay station.

“It’s really about the family because at the end of the day, these kids are the reason we’re here and we’ve got to put everything we have in everything we do to help them be successful.”

There is an overriding belief that at least two members of the current Gators family – defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson and offensive line coach Mike Summers – have been asked by McElwain to stay at Florida. Both have reportedly told recruits that they are sticking around, but nothing is set in stone with either coach and McElwain is still fending off Will Muschamp (now defensive coordinator at Auburn), who is trying to pull Robinson back to his alma mater.

However, Collins is the only official hire to this point, and McElwain explained to the Jacksonville station why Collins was the perfect hire to lead the Gators’ defense.

“We met each other at the University of Alabama, and he’s a guy that I’ve followed. He’s a guy that does a great job not only putting a plan together but really getting the guys excited to play the game,” he said.

“One of the things I did know was obviously we had success on defense, and I want to maintain some of the same things they did schematically and not [make] wholesale changes on that side of the ball. He’s a guy that kind of fell out of the same tree – as a lot of us have – with that Nick Saban defense. It was a natural fit and obviously a guy that has experience within the conference. There’s no replacing that.”


  1. Mike The Red says:

    The more I listen to this guy, the more I like him. This guy is smart. He is a thinker.

  2. g8ter27 says:

    T-Rob definitely may want to hold off on any Auburn decision considering Gus could be jumping to the pros in a couple of weeks.

    • Ziggy says:

      That would be so damn funny.

    • Oldflyer says:

      Why does everyone assume that any successful college coach is going to jump to the pros? How many actually do it each year? How many examples of those who did, jumping right back to college? Even the genius at the Eagles must be wondering why he left Eugene about now. How much is it really worth to live in Philly (can you say armpit of the east?) and deal with pro prima donnas?

      Do you actually know something about Gustav; or are you just repeating the same stuff that people who desperately have to come up with new fuel for the rumor mill put out there?

      I am waiting for a blogger, TV blabber, or columnist to say; :”well, there are really no rumors worth repeating today.”

      • PhillyGator says:

        Point of clarification, everyone knows that New Jersey is the armpit of the northeast. I’d say Chip Kelly made the right decision, everyone loves him in this town.

  3. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    I just believe the longer we wait to have a staff the longer recruiting will suffer. I know we are in a DEAD PERIOD but, still I’m sure a lot of recruits don’t like the fact they don’t know who their coach will be. In addition, I would have liked Brad Lawing to be retained which I thought did a good job at DLINE Coach.

    P.S. Overall, I’m in agreement that BOTH Summers and TROB should stay on at UF STAFF

    • Ken (CA) says:

      What makes you say Lawing won’t be retained? I don’t recall seeing anything otherwise

    • Ryan says:

      most of the recruits by now aren’t committing until NSL or the all star games anyways, so there is no rush. He’ll have his staff filled by February.

    • Michael Jones says:

      The more important thing is getting the staff right, not getting it quickly. Recruiting and other goods things wall fall into place accordingly.

  4. Michael J. says:

    I think if anyone from the present staff is going to be retained, for sure, it would have been announced already. There is zero reason to not do so, so it’s apparent that no one but Collins is assured of being on the staff. Maybe Robinson is wanted by McElwain but he hasn’t decided if he wants to accept. McElwain may also strike out with someone he wants more than someone on the current staff, so he’s not going to announce who’s fired until he has a replacement. Recruiting is going to suffer this year, get over it. Maybe someone he brings in will bring some recruits with him, the prospect of an Alabama coach bring someone sounds enticing. Right now FSU rules the state, that’s not going to change this year, so don’t retain anyone to pick up FSU’s crumbs. Next year is the time to start catching up with the mighty Seminoles.

    • Ryan D says:

      Always great work by Adam…scrolls down, oh look who it is. Are you here consistently trolling or do you have a genuine interest in Gators sports? I honestly would like to know because when I read your post they have decent material and then it always includes something negative or reppin’ the team up north. I’m just curious to why you’re here. Thanks

      • Michael Jones says:

        He’s a Nole, bro. That has been patently clear from the beginning. Even his “decent material” or compliments are tongue-in-cheek. He hates us and is only here to have some fun while we’re trying to get it right.

        As McElwain begins to turn things around and we return to our natural place in the universe–which is above FSU–you’ll no longer hear from that dude.

  5. KB says:

    I guess it is understandable if T-Rob is weighing his options as to why an announcement has not been made there. That being said, if there is truth to rumors about Summers and/or Lawling then I don’t know what’s the hold up in saying they have been retained. If there are coaches currently on staff Mac wants then it just makes sense to announce they have been retained. I guess there is a method to Mac’s madness as it continues to build speculation and anticipation. It just makes me wonder if those coaches are really going to be retained. I don’t see what good it does if Summers & Lawling want to stay, assuming Mac wants them, to not just name it now. I get what he is saying about the right fit and patience which makes total sense. However, if Mac knows and recruits are being told already what coaches are staying then why not announce it. It doesn’t make sense if coaches are being retained to name Collins DC and not make an announcement on any current coaches. My best guess is he doesn’t want current coaches/players distracted with the bowl game yet to be played but I say they already are so I don’t believe it matters. Well we will all find out eventually so in the meantime we sit and wait patiently. Also with the DC hire, I heard Byron Cowart reportedly said if he is playing defense with a hand down and not standing up in Fowler hybrid role then he isn’t coming. I hope he likes what he hears from Collins on how he will be utilized considering Collins is a base 4-3 guy. Gotta start this new era off by wrapping up some big time in-state difference making recruits in order to turn this around. Whenever that starts to happen with regularity then we will all know UF Football is going to be back in a big way.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I would suspect that no announcement can be made because while they know they are being retained at least at their current position, until he talks to others he may not know the exact structure of the staff or what positions they will specifically be covering as they may get promoted to other positions or laterally moved or something once he has talked to those that he cannot discuss yet.

  6. MAR says:

    Mighty isn’t almost losing at home to a confused and awfully coached UF team in one of their worst 2 year stretches that most fans under 45 can remember. Mighty… My ass!

    • Michael J. says:

      Almost does not count. Winning is all that matters, not how you win. Making the playoff is proof of being “mighty,” that’s a fact. Also, getting someone like Cowart does not mean anything as far as UF “being back in a big way.” UF has, over the past five years, in aggregate recruited as well as anyone not named Alabama, according to the recruiting rankings. So to think that getting guys with a high number of ‘stars’ is the solution is not a guarantee of success. I would worry less about the number of ‘stars’ than whether they fit in with what McElwain wants to do. Maybe the big problem at UF has been the emphasis on recruiting rankings instead of getting the players you need to succeed in what you’re trying to do. We have no idea what kind of team McElwain wants, but I hope he has a clear idea of what he wants to do, that’s half the battle.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        please go away. Your posts are just droll and tiring. We could care less that FSU is having 2 good years in the last 15 in a weak conference and against OOC opponents that were operating at historical lows. There is no one on this site that cares less about what FSU is doing, what perceptions you have on “ruling the state”, etc. This is a site about what is going on with the Gators, not what your perception of how can you creatively put them down or prop up FSU as “better” than them in a unique way in this post, so please, just go away. I am now voting with those who have asked Adam to please just block your posting because you contribute nothing to the conversation.

  7. Mike The Red says:

    Give him some space folks. He has been here 3 weeks.

    He just said that getting his staff right is important enough not to rush, and that the best talent has not finished their season yet. Good. He is patient enough to get the best. If he gets a good staff in place, we may just salvage this recruiting class. At a minimum, putting together a good staff now is our best hope for a good season next year with the current roster. Long-term, that is our best hope for a good recruiting class next year.

    Go Gators!

  8. MAR says:

    It’s entertaining watching you try, but you will never be able to come to this site and successfully pass FSU off as “mighty”. If almost doesn’t count, then why wasn’t the only undefeated team placed as the number one seed in the play-offs? I’ll tell you Mr. J….Too many “almost” losses!
    To try and pass off FSU as mighty on a sight that covers a school which owns FSU in overall football record, owns FSU in academic standards and overall athletics is a waste of your time. But keep on trying as it is entertaining and we MIGHTY Gators love to laugh at silly Noles.

  9. J.A. says:

    I love the fact that Collins was a beast on 3rd down defense at MSU last year. While our defense was solid under Muschamp, our weakness was clearly getting off the field on 3rd downs. I also like how McElwain is being extremely patient in assembling a staff. That is the right approach you need, especially if want to have early success in year 1 as a head coach.

  10. 305Gator says:

    I have Big Mac on a honeymoon, whatever he does or says right now is fine with me. He can take all the time he wants to put the staff together and we will be ready to rock well before NSD and he will bring in a good class.
    To the Nole troll I just want to say, if the Duck don’t get you the Tide will surely roll you. Your luck is about to run out. Mighty my ass.

  11. G8rB8 says:

    Michael J must not know that Florida’s all time winning percentage against Florida state is 58%…so let me break this down for an uneducated thug criminole…we beat FSU over half the time…if we play 10 times we would win 6! That means since the beginning of football meetings between FSU and Florida, the gators have won more times….that’s more mighty than ANYTHING you can throw at us.

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