Jim McElwain won 19 games and two SEC East titles in his first two seasons at Florida, but grumblings in Gainesville have never really been far from the surface. And on Monday, things took a strangely ominous turn when McElwain referenced “death threats to your families” while discussing the negativity surrounding the then-3-3 Gators this season.
McElwain refused to elaborate about his “death threats” comment when asked by reporters, and then apparently wouldn’t talk about them with his superiors, either.
“The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously,” Florida’s athletic department said in a statement Monday. “Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon and he offered no additional details.”
It was a very peculiar official statement for a school to make, and McElwain disputed the “no additional details” portion of it Wednesday. But taken as a whole, the dueling statements fueled speculation that McElwain was not long for the job. That scuttlebutt went into overdrive Saturday morning ahead of the Gators’ annual tilt with Georgia when Darren Heitner, a sports attorney and agent who graduated from Florida, said on Twitter that the school is trying to work out the details of McElwain’s departure, no matter what happened against the rival Bulldogs in Jacksonville. Third-ranked Georgia later rolled to a 42-7 victory over Florida.
Source: Boosters have been called to pool $ in anticipation that Gators will soon be hiring new head football coach— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) October 28, 2017
Source: Gators AD has statement already drafted no matter the outcome of UGA game..— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) October 28, 2017
Source: Agent Jimmy Sexton & UF have been trying to work out Coach Mac buyout, but are “miles apart.” Still working hard on it.— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) October 28, 2017
Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin was forced to address the rumors after Heitner’s tweets on Saturday morning.
Statement from Scott Stricklin pic.twitter.com/W2OFU021I6— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 28, 2017
Yahoo’s Pat Forde has sources telling him the same thing:
Y source familiar with the situation says there have been no conversations between UF and Sexton regarding McElwain's future at school. https://t.co/PUTDoNn8BF— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) October 28, 2017
Under the terms of his contract, Florida would have to pay McElwain $12.5 million — $2.5 million for each year remaining on his deal — if it fires him this season.
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