1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Gators

Why Florida Gators fans should thank Jim McElwain

Coaches hired early in the 2017-18 carousel are 40-38. Coaches hired late: 39-52.
In this Jan. 2, 2017, file photo, Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain looks at the action on the field in the first half against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. [Times]
In this Jan. 2, 2017, file photo, Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain looks at the action on the field in the first half against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. [Times]
Published Sep. 20, 2019

As ex-Gators coach Jim McElwain returns to the state to play Miami, Florida fans have a reason to thank him.

His awkward exit happened early.

RELATED: Ex-Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain returns to the state Saturday, fittingly, at Miami

Their Oct. 29 separation allowed UF to begin its formal search weeks before other schools like Florida State and Tennessee. Because 2017 was the inaugural early signing period, that early start was more important than ever; scrambling coaches needed every moment they could to assemble their staffs while salvaging their recruiting classes on a crunched timeline.

Banner Society writer Bud Elliott points out that hires from that coaching carousel started this year 6-19 against the spread, probably because they’re still trying to catch up from their late start. More evidence: Power Five coaches hired before Dec. 1 in that carousel are 40-38; coaches hired after Dec. 1 are 39-52.

If McElwain’s fate had lingered, maybe UF would have found itself in Group 2 like the Seminoles and Volunteers. Instead, his quick departure and the hire of Dan Mullen have the Gators at 13-3 — the best record of second-year Power Five coaches.

RELATED: Jim McElwain: Florida Gators’ Kyle Trask will ‘make the most of his opportunity’


  1. The Knicks' Kevin Knox looks to pass as two Suns players defend him during the first half in a game on Jan. 16, 2020.
  2. Dan Mullen, of Florida, speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Monday, July 15, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
  3. Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine (22) smashes into LSU Tigers safety John Battle (26) in the second quarter. (Bronte Wittpenn, Times)
  4. BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
Florida Gators wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches the ball near the end zone in the third quarter in a game against LSU at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Saturday, October 6, 2018.
  5. Florida forward Keyontae Johnson, shown here against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2020, scores a career-high 24 points on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in a win over Arkansas in Gainesville.
  6. Florida State quarterback James Blackman (1) throws during the first half of the 2019 season opener against Boise State in Tallahassee.
  7. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the Orange Bowl against Virginia on Dec. 30 in Miami Gardens.
  8. In this 1980 file photo, Charley Pell celebrates his first victory as Florida Gators' coach, against Cal at Tampa Stadium.
  9. Florida basketball coach Mike White, shown here against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2020, continues to be frustrated by his team falling behind by large deficits early in games.
  10. Florida guard Andrew Nembhard shoots over Mississippi guard Devontae Shuler during a game Jan. 14, 2020, in Gainesville.
  11. South Florida Bulls tight end Mitchell Wilcox (89) makes a key reception with Temple Owls safety Amir Tyler (25) and Temple Owls linebacker Audley Isaacs (30) defending during the third quarter of the game between USF and Temple on Thursday, November 7, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  12. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times Florida Gators wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) walks in Gator Walk before the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla.