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Jim McElwain promises to answer Gators' SOS for offense

JIm McElwain was officially introduced at a press conference this morning on the UF campus. [AP photo]
JIm McElwain was officially introduced at a press conference this morning on the UF campus. [AP photo]
Published Dec. 7, 2014

GAINESVILLE — It didn't take Jim McElwain long at his introductory news conference Saturday morning to bring music to Florida fans' ears: Fun is coming back to the Gators' offense.

McElwain, who is known for developing quarterbacks in highly productive offenses, said he doesn't have a fancy name like the Steve Spurrier-era "Fun 'n' Gun" for what he'll do, but he promised it will be something worth watching.

"I don't know what you call it, but it will be a blast," McElwain said.

McElwain, a former Alabama offensive coordinator, said he welcomes the challenge of returning to the SEC, "the opportunity to be at the top, really take your shot with the best, the best being the SEC: the best players you're going to play against, the best coaches you're going to coach against."

"I never look at anything like that except what a great challenge," he said. "What a great opportunity to match your skills against the best."

McElwain, 52, was hired Thursday after three years as coach at Colorado State. Getting him required payment of the largest buyout package ever in college football: $7 million, of which McElwain will pay $2 million of his own money.

"You've got to understand this: There's only a couple of these (types of jobs) in the United States of America, and one of those is the Florida Gators," he said. "To be able to have that opportunity is something that I'm not sure I could have lived with, if given that opportunity, to let it pass by."

McElwain met with the Gators' coaching staff Friday night. He said he had made no decision on which coaches, if any, he would retain.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley said Saturday that McElwain fit every major criterion the Gators set forth for their new coach. But also critical was that McElwain wanted to be at Florida, Foley said.

"Besides the X's and O's and the integrity and all those other things, you've got to want this job," Foley said.

"I think there's an impression that every time there's a coaching opening at Florida … everybody in the country wants to move to Gainesville. A lot of people have good jobs. They like the people they work for, they like where they live, they like all those things. So if you throw a bunch of names out there, you don't want someone who doesn't want to move to Gainesville. I learned that a long time ago.

"I've chased coaches before I've had no chance to get and I didn't know it until it came time to pull the trigger, and they couldn't pull it. 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."

McElwain has begun evaluating the players but couldn't say specifically what major needs the Gators have or whether the quarterbacks are conducive to what he wants to run with his offense. He will join the coaching staff for recruiting this week.

McElwain said regardless of personnel, his offense is a combination of everything he has ever learned during his 30-year coaching career.

"Here is who I am," McElwain said. "I'm the dog they dropped off down at the Humane Society. He has a little bit of about every breed in him. Whatever the situation is, you try to bring that breed out that helps success."

Contact Antonya English at aenglish@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Gators.