University of Florida

New Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain excited to get started

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain speaks during an introductory press conference on December 6, 2014 in Gainesville, Florida. McElwain has left Colorado State and replaces ex-Florida coach Will Muschamp who was fired earlier this season.
Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain speaks during an introductory press conference on December 6, 2014 in Gainesville, Florida. McElwain has left Colorado State and replaces ex-Florida coach Will Muschamp who was fired earlier this season. Getty Images

Jim McElwain was hired as Florida’s coach on Dec.6, but the 52-year-old offensive guru is excited to officially “get it going” Monday.

McElwain, who spoke with reporters roughly a half-hour before UF’s 28-20 win in Saturday’s Birmingham Bowl, will hold a team meeting Monday before conducting one-on-one interviews with every player on the roster.

“It is just building a relationship between the two of us and knowing that I’m here to help,” he said. “My main goal in life is to help them be better for the rest of their life.”

McElwain visited tailgates during pregame festivities and watched the game from a private suite with athletics director Jeremy Foley.

He has been recruiting for the past month and slowly building a staff.

McEwain said he has been well received on the recruiting trail but will really know on National Signing Day on Feb.4.

“Well, we’ll find out in February,” he said. “But I think the brand that is the University of Florida carries a lot of clout and some of the success we’ve had, places we’ve been — that’ll open doors. Obviously, previous relationships I’ve had in the state of Florida with all the years of recruiting down here have been beneficial, and yet you know time will tell.”

He has yet to finalize his staff, only officially announcing offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier from Michigan and former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

Former Miami head coach and current Arkansas associate head coach Randy Shannon is slated to become UF’s linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Also, reports surfaced Friday night that McElwain turned to his former school, Colorado State University, for two hires.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Rams assistant head coach Tim Skipper will join UF’s staff as the running backs coach, and CSU strength and conditioning coach Mike Kent will man the same position at Florida.

On Saturday, FoxSports.com reported Western Kentucky coach Greg Hand will join the staff in an unknown capacity, and FootballScoop.com stated that Oakland Raiders defensive line coach Terrell Williams is poised to accept the same position at UF.

McElwain wouldn’t comment on any of the reported hires or outline a timetable for the staff’s completion.

“We’ll make sure all the pieces fit,” he said. “This is going to be a building process in the infrastructure for a long time to come. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’m talking about rebuilding a total organization, so that’s going to take some time.”

INJURIES PILE UP

Junior linebacker Antonio Morrison, Florida’s leading tackler, was carted off the field with a left knee injury in the second quarter.

Morrison, who was pondering entering the NFL Draft following the bowl game, was heard screaming on the TV telecast, writhing in pain and ripping off his helmet before leaving the field on a stretcher.

The middle linebacker recorded his 101st tackle in the game, becoming the first Gator with at least 100 stops since safety Ahmad Black in 2010.

The Gators had several other starters go down with injuries as well, including quarterback Treon Harris, defensive tackle Caleb Brantley, left tackle D.J. Humphries and right guard Tyler Moore.

THIS AND THAT

The Gators wore orange jerseys for the first time since a 27-20 victory over Louisiana in 2012. … Durkin became Florida’s first interim head coach to win a game since Gary Darnell in 1989. … With UF’s victory, the Southeastern Conference’s East Division was 5-0 in bowl games. … Gators starting tailback Matt Jones (shoulder), who declared early for the NFL Draft in December, did not play.

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