First, let's start this with a confession. I am not one of those fans that's been calling for Jim McElwain to be fired for months ... or even weeks.
I am a Gator season ticket holder, alum, and probably the mouthiest Gator fan in the building at First Coast News. Up until this week, I felt like McElwain had the program headed in the right direction.
Until Saturday's debacle at EverBank Field, this team has played hard despite obstacles ranging from nine players, including two stars, suspended due to the credit card fraud case, season-ending injuries to key players, and a hurricane taking away a likely easy win (and chance for some young players to get valuable experience).
McElwain's first two teams won the SEC East ... not even Urban Meyer could say that and Will Muschamp's teams never even sniffed a division title. They also had a penchant for winning close games, including this year's miracle wins against Tennessee and Kentucky.
Oh ... and by the way, McElwain had a heck of a recruiting class on the line for 2018 and (yes), the No. 1 ranked class in America for 2019, based on early commitments.
I was out of the country when the "death threats" story broke Monday, returning Wednesday for McElwain's weak explanation. It was surprising to me for a man who preaches accountability and transparency. Maybe he once saw a tweet or received a threatening letter. IF he did, then the right thing to do was to report it to the proper authorities.
But McElwain did not do the right thing. Instead, his weak statement that he was wrong to bring up the death threats and UF's obvious lack of defense of the coach spoke volumes.
Certainly, Georgia is the better team this year and has better talent (and coaching), but the talent gap is not 42-7 wide. Clearly, the team was distracted and McElwain could not handle getting his team ready to play.
The loss to Georgia is not what did McElwain in. He lost the team, the fans he still had (myself included), and the trust of the University. That trifecta is what did him in, especially the last one.
Last night was the first time I used the #FireMcElwain on my social media accounts. Thankfully, it did not take long.
Neal Bennett is the digital director at First Coast News. He holds bachelor's and masters degrees from the University of Florida and is an ardent Gator fan.
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