The fact that Florida’s football team and head coach Jim McElwain parted company abruptly Sunday was “not shocking but surprising,” said the man who used to hold that job.
“The athletic director summed it up. I thought he did a good job of saying that this was not about wins and losses, it was about the whole thing, other things and so forth,” Steve Spurrier told The State on Monday. “That was just part of it, the wins and losses. He took into consideration everything I guess, and they thought it was time to make a change.”
Spurrier – who coached the Gators for 12 seasons, including the 1996 national championship team – now serves as a consultant at Florida, where he also played and won the 1966 Heisman Trophy. He had a good relationship with McElwain’s offensive coaching staff and would occasionally share plays with Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, he said Monday.
“Oh yeah, I did that every week or so,” Spurrier said, “just with Nussmeier and his staff and they look at it. He’s put some of them in. He’s put a few in. I’ll walk through there and give them a play every now then, one or two plays, say ‘What’d you think about this? This was good for us.’ Sometimes they actually use them, and sometimes it’s foreign to them. Our offense was so much different from what they do here.”
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Spurrier became famous for his Fun ’N Gun offense with the Gators and McElwain had been hired to revive Florida’s offense, but the Gators never finished better than 112th nationally in total offense under McElwain.
“The offense has been so bad, everybody knows it,” said Spurrier, who is also the winningest head coach in South Carolina history after compiling 86 wins with the Gamecocks from 2005-2015. “Did you see us play Georgia? Yeah, it was a sad, sad day, but anyway…”
McElwain was let go the day after a 42-7 loss to Georgia.
“Yeah, (Nussmeier) was OK,” Spurrier said. “They didn’t call me up and say, ‘What’d you run against this coverage or that coverage?’ But when I took the job here they were open for suggestions a little bit so I did a little bit but not a lot. Very little.”
Florida defensive coordinator Randy Shannon will serve as the Gators interim coach for the remainder of the season. Spurrier would not have considered that job if asked, he said.
“No, no, no. I am finished as a head coach,” he said. “I said I may come back and coach high school ball, quarterbacks or something like that. In fact, Marcus Lattimore saw that in the paper and called me up last week. He said, ‘Coach, I need a quarterback coach here at Heathwood Hall.’ I told him I live in Gainesville, Fla. That’s the only problem.”
Spurrier believes Shannon has a chance to get the job full-time if he turns Florida’s season around, he said, but he added he will have very limited impact on the coaching search.
“I may throw some names at (athletics director Scott Stricklin),” Spurrier said. “I’m not on the selection committee. Remember when they used to have those selection committees?”