Monday, November 20, 2017
Colleges

Jim McElwain’s former SEC colleagues weigh in on his firing

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Three days after Florida and coach Jim McElwain parted ways, some of his former SEC colleagues weighed in on a move that could ripple across the profession.

"I think we all feel for our comrades when things like that happen," Kentucky’s Mark Stoops said. "It’s very sad to see that happen to Coach Mac."

The speed of McElwain’s fall was surprising. The 2015 SEC coach of the year won division titles in his first two seasons, but he didn’t even get a chance to finish out his third year.

It’s just part of routine turnover in the SEC. Two programs (Florida and Mississippi) are led by interim coaches. Tennessee is widely expected to fire Butch Jones by the end of the season. Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema could be in trouble, too.

"I think that’s life," said Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, a former Gator assistant whose name has been prominently linked to UF’s opening. "I think that’s just kind of the standards and expectations of the fan bases and where everybody is in this league."

Taggart text: Oregon coach (and former USF coach) Willie Taggart didn’t necessarily plan on addressing rumors of him and the Florida opening with his team. A text message from his son changed his mind.

The text: "Dad, are we moving again?"

"I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’?" Taggart told reporters in Oregon.

Although Taggart would be a logical candidate, he has denied any communication with Florida. The Ducks are 5-4 in Taggart’s first season.

No QB decision: Florida remains undecided on whether redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks or Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire will start at quarterback Saturday at Missouri. "Both of those guys have been doing a great job of competing in practice and having a positive attitude," interim coach Randy Shannon said. "It brings the best out of both of them. I think both of the guys are not in the comfort zone, but they’re not in the fearful zone."

Franks is 75-of-125 for 830 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions but has been pulled in three of his six starts. Zaire struggled in relief against Michigan but led UF on its only scoring drive against Georgia.

Record watch: With seven tackles Saturday at Connecticut, USF senior MLB Auggie Sanchez — a Northeast High alumnus — will surpass Kawika Mitchell for the school’s career mark.

Sanchez, sitting at 361 tackles, also will be making his 47th start, placing him alone at No. 3 on the school’s all-time list behind DeDe Lattimore (49) and George Selvie (50).

"It’s an unbelievable feat," first-year defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said. "Any time you’re tackling the football, no matter if it’s for a 1-yard gain or you’re hustling and getting it for a 10- or 15-yard gain, it’s about drive, determination, just passion for the game. And for him to hit the football as many times as he has tells you what kind of player he is."

Audible: "It’s almost like a big brother playing ball with a little brother out on Thanksgiving. The big brother is having fun. The little brother is trying, but it doesn’t really make a difference. That’s what he looks like sometimes." — Syracuse coach Dino Babers on Florida State WR Auden Tate (Wharton High)

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