Even with losing the last three games and ending with a 10-4 record, athletic director Jeremy Foley felt obliged to give head coach Jim McElwain a $750,000 raise. Possibly the biggest reason is turning the program around and winning the SEC East for the first time since 2009, and it all came on getting there by the skin of their teeth during the second half of the season without their starting quarterback.
McElwain took over a team that was filled with injuries and an extreme lack of offense the last two years. While he still had quarterback Will Grier before his suspension, he helped restore the offensive identity that was once lost under Will Muschamp’s watch. Muschamp tried to use the philosophy of defense wins championships, which extremely backfired on him throughout his run at Florida.
McElwain had Florida back on the right track immediately before Grier was suspended. His unexpected benching most likely put a damper on the Gators production, as Grier proved to be the right man. It will be an overstatement to say that McElwain didn’t deserve the raise after the offense sputtered. With Grier transferring due to no guarantee of keeping his job, it gives the other quarterbacks a chance to prove that McElwain’s first year was not a smokescreen.
In order to prove that McElwain is well deserving of his raise, he will need either graduate transfer Austin Appleby from Purdue or former transfer Luke Del Rio to fill Grier’s shoes. Most importantly once he finds his quarterback again, Florida will most likely contend with Georgia and Tennessee for the SEC East once again. There are a lot of spaces to be filled during Spring practice, and Vanderbilt has already held their Spring game. Once those areas of upmost importance are set, Gator Nation will know for sure whether McElwain is well deserving of his new raise in Gainesville.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law