Ann Arbor got their guy.
John Harbaugh packed his suitcases and traveled to his former alma mater with the former-49ers coach landing a job to guide the Wolverines back to the tradition of victory. Michigan fans erupted in cheers, the media boomed on Twitter, and every bottom line ticker found on ESPN blinked red with the new hiring.
And I’m over here still worried about the state of Florida.
The gap between the regular season and bowl games hides a secret activity that most overlook.
Coaches hoisted atop the hot seat usually find their tenure come to a screeching halt while new coaches with a bright future transition to new schools in hope of generating a spark to the program.
Maybe it’s due to my Midwest roots, but the media failing to drop a “Jim McElwain” here or there gives me a subtle hint that the SEC feels the hiring of the former-Colorado State coach isn’t threatening.
Like the majority of college football headlines, there are mixed reviews. While one will praise McElwain’s ability to win, a counter-argument filled with statistics of how coaches transitioning from a non-BCS to a Power-5 conference can’t win scratches the surface. Personally, I love it. Why not?
Once the Tim Tebow-era culminated, Florida’s bright spot has yet to be found. The Sunshine State’s highlight reel would consist of constant loops featuring Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston hoisting not only the Heisman but the National Championship trophy to go with it. Even Miami, after several underachieving years, brought a few nice seasons to the forefront with head coach Al Golden.
With the Florida keys (no pun intended) in 2015, McElwain’s presence at the helm may be the final piece to the puzzle. A three-year résumé at Colorado State resulted in a record of 22-16 with McElwain’s Rams bursting into the top 25 last season.
He can win, yes, but he’s also familiar with the SEC, handling the offensive coordinator position at Alabama for four years.
What people tend to shove to the back of their mind is McElwain’s ability to develop quarterbacks. The Florida fans that got a glimpse of Jeff Driskel and even Treon Harris’s play last season are exhaling.
McElwain’s expertise was more than visual at Colorado State, where he coached quarterback Garrett Grayson. Grayson, now entering the 2015 draft, flourished in his junior and senior seasons, passing for 7,702 yards.
Florida fans would be satisfied to see half that result with Treon Harris. The freshman quarterback out of Miami was called upon after the subpar play of Jeff Driskel but only managed more than 200 yards passing in one contest.
Harris, who finished the 2014 campaign with 1,019 yards passing, will likely see his mechanics, statistics, and hopefully wins improve in 2015. The 5’11” Harris doesn’t possess the height of most pocket passers, but his raw talent means McElwain will have a nifty project to craft throughout the offseason.
Returning on the outside will be wide receivers Demarcus Robinson, Brandon Powell, and Ahmad Fullwood, giving the Gators a dose of experience on offense. As for the defense, its tenacity and physicality still exists.
With a 2015 college football season that will hopefully cover zero Jameis Winston highlights, I could get use to ESPN highlighting Florida victories under Jim McElwain.