Jim McElwain stopped short of apologizing for his expletive-laced tirade at tailback Kelvin Taylor, but the Florida Gators’ first-year coach regrets the now-viral incident during Saturday’s 31-24 win against East Carolina.
He even got a stern scolding from his 94-year-old mother Marjorie.
“I’m not proud about it, and neither is my mother,” McElwain said. “She’s 94 years old and I got an earful from her, too. Rightfully so.”
In a video posted online Sunday, McElwain is seen screaming at Taylor, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after making a throat-slash gesture following a 7-yard touchdown run.
“Don’t look down. [Expletive] be a man,” McElwain shouts. “You let your [expletive] team down. That’s [expletive] [expletive]. And you think it’s [expletive] OK?”
McElwain called it a “teachable moment” for both him and Taylor.
“I’m by no means perfect,” he said. “I do know our players know how much I care about them. At the end of it, it also was a hug in learning from it. … I don’t feel good about it.”
Neither does Taylor’s father, former UF and NFL tailback Fred Taylor.
The elder Taylor, who was renowned for making the same throat-slash gesture after touchdowns, told The Dan Le Batard Show on Monday, “I thought it was a little bit of an overreaction. I do understand coaching. I understand the moment.”
He later added that the incident ultimately reflects poorly on McElwain and not his son.
“It was a little much, but [the media] will make it a mockery,” Taylor said. “History shows that the coaches that go and act that way, they’ll be a bigger mockery over time than the actual player will. My son, he’ll forget about this. He’s forgotten about it, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
On Sunday, Kelvin tweeted, “I love coach Mac!!! He’s going to make me a better person. Got nothing but respect for him.”
Taylor’s teammates defended McElwain’s tirade, too, as senior guard Trip Thurman said, “I think coach did the right thing. The head coach is a father figure. He wants the best out of his players. … Kelvin knows what he did wrong. We learned from it and we’re going to move on. Coach loves us all.”
With the outburst drawing national headlines, McElwain commented on the “life we live now,” saying, “Everything’s public. … Am I proud of it? Absolutely not. Do I feel about it? Yes. At the same time, I’ve got to understand my mistakes as well and learn from it and move forward.”
Still, the situation isn’t completely resolved.
Taylor, who leads the Gators with 24 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns, was actually reinserted into the game for Florida’s final offensive series against ECU.
But the junior tailback was demoted to third string Monday in advance of Saturday’s game at Kentucky (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).
McElwain insisted Taylor would receive the bulk of the carries against the Wildcats (2-0) this weekend, confusing Taylor’s father even further.
“I don’t understand the thought behind it,” Fred Taylor told the Associated Press. “If he’s going to be consistent and this is what happens, then great. Being a starter is not the end of the world, but what point are you trying to make?
“Are you trying to show the media that you’re going to be a no-nonsense guy? Or are you trying to get the players’ attention? I thought you did that already.”
Florida’s secondary will receive a much-needed boost Saturday, as starting safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) is set to return to the lineup after missing UF’s first two games.
“He’s ready to roll,” McElwain said.
The rest of Florida’s injury situation remains murky, though.
All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is questionable with a leg injury that sidelined the junior against East Carolina.
The Pirates took full advantage of Neal and Hargreaves’ absences, torching UF’s secondary for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, junior linebacker Alex Anzalone, who led the team in tackles in the opener, reinjured his right shoulder against ECU and could be sidelined awhile. Anzalone underwent surgery on the same shoulder in March 2013.
Finally, offensive tackle Martez Ivey will return to practice this week for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 28. The five-star freshman was UF’s starting left tackle late in training camp and McElwain is optimistic Ivey’s return is imminent.
“We’re going to try and get him out there in drills this week and see where that knee is,” McElwain said.
TIME SET FOR GATORS-VOLS
Florida’s Sept. 26 meeting with Tennessee will air in the prime-time SEC spot, the league announced Monday.
The Gators have won a series-record 10 consecutive games against the Volunteers and will aim to extend their winning streak at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
A year ago, UF rallied for a 10-9 win in Knoxville, as Jeff Driskel was benched in favor of then-freshman quarterback Treon Harris.
The former Booker T. Washington alum piloted the Gators to 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.