Peach Bowl players speak highly of ‘Uncle Mac’

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UF coach Jim McElwain expressed remorse for the firestorm he caused and all those it affected. [The Associated Press]

ATLANTA — When the two teams met 16 months ago, he was the head coach at Florida.

A month ago, he was an assistant coach at Michigan.

This Peach Bowl has a huge connection with a coach who won’t be here on either side Saturday.

Jim McElwain is now the head coach at Central Michigan, but his combined knowledge of these two teams might exceed every one coaching in the game.

At Thursday’s media opportunity, Michigan players spoke highly of their former coach.

So did Florida’s.

“He’s a good guy,” said Florida linebacker David Reese, who is from Farmington, Mich. “He’s a player’s coach. I’m sure he got those guys heading in the right direction. After he got the job (at Michigan), their players were all asking me about him.”

McElwain recruited Reese to Florida as well as a good portion of the UF roster. After being fired by UF, he moved on to coach Michigan’s wide receivers this season.

“It was nice. I really enjoyed his time here,” said Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. “I’m glad he came. I had a really good time playing for him.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh brought McElwain to Ann Arbor, Mich., because of his experience as an offensive coordinator and a head coach.

For McElwain, it was a chance to rebuild his brand. He was a candidate for several head coaching jobs — most notably Colorado — and offensive coordinator jobs after the season before Central Michigan called.

But he clearly left his impression on the program that beat him twice as UF’s head coach.

“It was great. It was great for not only our coaching staff but for our players,” said Michigan offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. “Coach Mac brought a wealth of experience and his people skills are off the chart.

“We gave him the nickname, Uncle Mac. He had a way of just calming everybody down and just really sharing the experience that he accrued over the years with not only myself, but the rest of our staff and our players. And we miss Coach Mac, and we wish him the best down at Central Michigan.”

34 COMMENTS

  1. Glad the players liked him. The fans watched an absolute low-character fraud unfold before him. I entered the 2017 season still a big fan of Mac; I was a little leery after Michigan ripped the facade off, but trying to be positive.

    The disrespectful, low-rent attempt to peddle his BBQ sauce in our home stadium on the first home game ripped it. And that was BEFORE watching his incredibly awful play management give away games to LSU and TAMU. I wish that clown had been fired after Michigan, and so grateful to UGa (oh the irony) for giving AD Stricklin the shot to pull the trigger after the idiotic death threat drama earlier in the week.

    Maybe Urban can get Mac a teaching post as a teaching assistant for his course on character and leadership.

  2. I supported Coach Mac until the death threat fiasco. Now looking back on his time here, he had no business coaching the University of Florida football team and being the face of the program. I’m sure he is a good guy, however, had no business coaching the Gators.

    • Joe, you’re a smart guy and I really love reading your comments — always insightful and demonstrating really good football savvy. But that’s a little unfair to Sly, don’t you think? My take is that he is just calling for objectivity on Mac, not claiming he was the best thing since canned beer and peanut butter.

      I tried to stay in Mac’s corner as long as I could, until just about the very end when the actual story about the so called death threats came out. Once I was able to balance that out, as well as being able to view his tenure in retrospect, clearly, I was glad he was gone and doubly glad we didn’t hire Chip Kelly to replace him. We’ve got a pearl now, if we can keep him — I just hate that it took so damn long to finally get it right! Go Gators…..

      • I was a staunch supporter as well, until everything came out after he left and reality set in. Kind’ve hard to defend the guy after that, but I’ve seen Sly do it almost any time someone has something negative to say. I’ve had several back and forth’s with him regarding this very thing to the point that I actually thought for a second he might be Mac using an alias on message boards to defend himself. What I said wasn’t unfair, it was actually a joke based off our past conversations. You and I both know the majority of the comments that are going to be posted are going to be bashing Mac, so what I said is right in line with whats happened in the past.

          • Doc – Thanks for stepping in the line of fire!!! I’d go to war with you any day. You’re highly intelligent and see the big picture but I must commend you for your EQ though. It is off the charts. If only I can possess a portion of your gift… I’m better with facts and logic, and an uncanny ability to see inside a person’s motives than managing their emotions. I am trying to improve in that department though.

            I’ve been tied up with family stuff so haven’t had the time to get into a lengthy back and forth Mac debate. Not that I want to and it’s probably a good thing because I do think we all should move on from the fiasco. You hit the nail on the head about being objective. Not that I love McElwain, but I feel the incessant Mac bashing is over the top and unfair, even worse than a bunch of women gathering to bash men. OK, so that’s not what someone with a high EQ would say, is it? I couldn’t help myself (chuckling). Anyways, I have a warehouse full of expiring BBQ sauce that I need to unload at a deep discount. You interested?

          • Hey, thanks for the compliment, Sly — I have to say tho, I was down in San Antonio yesterday to speak at the funeral of an old battalion commander I loved with all my heart….and it’s not lost on me that he once told me that I was the dumbest SOB he ever met! I was afraid to ask my fellow ex-company commanders there if there was still consensus of opinion on that, but we did have a good laugh.

            No to Mac’s Stinkin’ BBQ sauce! (my 12 year old doctor wouldn’t let me eat it anyway)

            Hope you guys had the merriest of Christmas, with blessed wishes for the New Year. 41-15, BABY!

  3. Good fargin’ riddance to a bad hbc!!! (No caps…completely undeserving.)

    The sorry sumbeeotch is so far in UF’s rearview you can’t even see his yeller teeth (that’s a pretty fur piece!!!) and he ain’t even at Meatchicken anymore, so why mention him at all?

    Like urban and musclecramp, who the hell cares? We got CDM and he’s got us pointed in the right direction…FINALLY!!!

    GO GATORS…BEAT MEATCHICKEN!!!

  4. Mac did better than he got credit for. The mess was due to champ being out of his league imo. I don’t get the endless rage at Mac but I do think differently than most people anyway. Ok it ended weird but it’s not the first strange ending in this world. He definitely brought in a few guys that turned out well, he just took too many risks given what he inherited.
    Geoff Collins got the Georgia tech job so
    Mac did have a good assistant or two as well.

    • Champ created a mess offensively, but it was his defense and a very weak East that led to 2 division titles and the early success Mac had. As soon as all those NFL draft picks he brought in on defense were gone, we were left with a crappy defense to go along with a crappy offense. To see the difference from last year to this year with basically the same players, speaks volumes for how bad things were coaching wise. Do you honestly believe we’d be in a New Years 6 bowl if Mac was still roaming the sidelines with the same coaches and strength and conditioning program? I remember seeing pics of a table with a bunch of food setup during the hurricane and it was nothing but Doritos and other types of chips and cookies and other unhealthy food. Obviously the players health and nutrition was not a top priority, which led to an unheard of amount of injuries in a 2 year span. I don’t care what anyone says, we could’ve had top 5 classes every year but with the same S&C program, they would’ve been dominated on the field in every game just like they were last year. They were being pushed around by FCS teams. Yeah Mac had some early success, but it was clear that success was going down the drain quickly. He couldn’t keep players on the field and the ones who did stay on the field were out of shape and weak. We were very lucky to get a great coach like Mullen who could turn it around quickly, cause the way this program was run under Mac, it very easily could’ve been a much longer recovery process. I think the hate and vitriol comes from his lackadaisical attitude and based on how he ran the program, the appearance that he didn’t really care about making it the best it could be.

    • Biggest beef I have with Mac is the complete joke of a strength program. He’s not a strength coach, so it’s not like he personally created the workout plans, but there was just no supervision, no discipline in the weight room, and in the end, it’s his program, not the strength coach. When players are dropping like flies due to injury and seeking out personal trainers in Gainesville just to get a good workout. Players were eating candy in the weight room, goofing off, etc, and the o-linemen were saying that the recruits on trips looked bigger than they were. That was his biggest problem

  5. If we gave time to either of the predecessors would we have had the teams we want as fans? How long would it take? I don’t think Muschamp could have gotten us there in 8-10 years. He wasn’t ready (may never be) for a group this size. Mac wasn’t getting things done and with the lack of S&C we would have floated in a state of never good enough but it would be ‘kinda cool’ according to him. While the knucklehead nine hurt him the fact that the program was losing direction would have lead to decline. 8-10 years and we would have been no where. If we had given each 10 years that would be 20 years in ruin. Mullen was here and was a part of running this program when it was on top of the game. Flawed but on top. He learned what it takes to run a group this large and with the media and rabid fans (I are one) that want to have a great team. I’ve been critical of the past regimes and thought Muschamp was not a good choice but was willing to give him a chance (not that I had any say.) Mac didn’t seem to fit and my first instinct was to look at his accomplishments and to me it screamed WTF but I am only a fan so I guessed those in the position to make good decisions had done so and watch an learn. I learned what I looked up was right and the result was a team that did well in the East but couldn’t compete in the bigger dances. In time Muschamp and Mac may be great coaches but it was never going to happen here and what transpired was a learning stop for both. Mullen proved he can do some good things with Miss St. With greater resources he should do some great things here. I don’t think it will take 10 years but I am will to let him have more time than the others because of the professionalism and manner he is doing things. I think his methods are going to pay dividends for years to come. Building a good foundation for a long term run at success.

    • Good read, 65, and I think the majority share those opinions. Over the last (almost) 30 years, which seem to me to have elapsed in a nano-second, we’ve had six (6) head coaches. Three I think most of us would put in the (+) column and three I think most people would put in the (-) column. In a sense, we’re batting .500 in that department, which ain’t good and it ain’t half bad — but I too shudder to think what things would look like if we had doled out 10 years to each “mistake” before making corrections. Changes your perspective!

    • My opinion is, Muschamp wasn’t in over his head, he just never seemed to realize the need to emphasize and support the offensive side of the ball. He can coach a defense like nobody’s business. And he has been around the SEC his entire career, dating back to playing days. So the stage wasn’t too big. He just need to learn that offense is just as important.

      Mac, on the other hand, was just over his head. Leading an SEC team was just too big for him. He may do well at Central Michigan (if he doesn’t hire Nussmeier) but I don’t think he would have ever been able to build the Gator program that Coach Mullen is building.

  6. The more a coach sucks the more he will be showered with praise by the Ganesville Sun. So it is written. So it will always be.

    I will allow that weird freak did recruit most of the current team. Mullen has proven there is talent, but that talent was betrayed by Yellow Teeth and one of the worst coaching staffs ever assembled at a major college program.

    Finally, the term “players coach” is a euphemism for loser. It is a label given to virtually every failed coach of nice guy variety who is weak and needy to the point of wanting to be a friend to the players instead of their coach. It is fine for a low level position like receivers coach — especially if the head coach is a real coach, but it does not translate well at the higher levels.

    Sadly, just like with Mush, we will likely be subjected to many more of these pointless articles praising a sad fool and his creepy collection of inflatable shark dolls.

  7. Mac was picked to fix the offense. Right? Bragged that he could make it work like a charm even with his dog at qb. So they paid him the big bucks but he failed to produce. Totally inept…no blocking and awful, predictable play calling and his qbs looked lost. He was sockless and clueless and seemed like he wanted to be a folk artist more than a HBC. Uncle Mac fits. Glad he found his niche up yonder.

  8. Hindsight is always 20/20. Apparently Saben was happy with Mac. Seemingly he did a good job at CSU. Muschamp was by all measures a gifted DC/Head Coach-in- waiting. But so was Jimbo and Kirby (notso) Smart was a comparably gifted DC for Saben. So what’s the difference? Who knows? The answer is … Nobody. Yu pays yo’ money yu takes yo’ chances is the only answer. The question should always be, How will he handle the Big Stage? If anyone can invent a formula which that predicts that outcome, let her please step forward. Think of Jim Tressel, or Brian Kelly, Butch Jones, Craig Bole, Mark Stoops, Mike Stoops, Bob Stoops. All of these guys were either very successful coordinators, or HBCs at lower level programs. What is it about the Big Stage? Brighter lights shining into the nooks and crannies of unstable personality. Let’s take Mac. Obviously, he didn’t suddenly become a flake. Perhaps he was able to keep it a secret in subordinate roles, waiting for that big moment in the spotlight when he could let his flake flag fly. Whoopee, I’m an incompetent bed bug and all y’all missed it! Gimme sum my money and I’m oughta here.
    My opinion re. Mac the-not-so-sharp Knife. You can find a few examples of excellent game plans and victories. The total beat down of Ole Miss, and the glorious triumph at Tiger Stadium culminating with the best goal line stand this old fan can remember seeing. Perhaps these two games prove to some degree that the guy is not without a degree of acumen. Perhaps not–granted a stopped watch is right now and then. But with this guy it ain’t about ability, it’s about the aforementioned Flake Factor. Only a nut job would decide that fat weak players really don’t matter. Everybody who gives a shite about sports knows that conditioning is the great equalizer! Only a person with issues would let a Will Grier slip away. And when this little cornered rat begins to realize the jig is up, he makes sure that if any of us somehow missed it… Yeeha! The paranoids are out to get me!!

  9. I too questioned the Mac hire when it was announced. He didn’t have the track record showing improvement at multiple programs as a head coach or a long enough track record at one school. He was green. However, I gave him the benefit of being our new head coach. The SEC east titles hid a festering wound deep in the Program. He was hired to turn around the horrible offense he inherited from Muschamp. He was gifted an extremely talented defense. During his time at Florida the defense slowly degraded, and the offense never showed signs of improvement. I originally thought that Scott Stricklin was a little trigger happy, but given the information that leaked out after the firing he took appropriate measures to limit potential long-term damage. The job was simply too much for MacElwain. I believe he will find success at a lower tier program. I fault Foley for the MacElwain choice. However, I don’t remember a great proven head coach being available at the time.

    Time will tell about Stricklin’s choice of Dan Mullen. I am going to give Mullen the same benefit of trust I gave MacElwain. However, Mullen so far has demonstrated that he is a man of his word and that the position is not too great. Mullen stated he would pick a QB and run an offense that played to the strength of his QB and team. He did exactly that in elevating the play of Franks. Mullen stated that his players would give relentless effort. Other than the Missouri game they gave great effort. Mullen has improved the offense dramatically in year one. Even the defense improved under his guidance. Even without the talk of the improvement of the S&C program, the success of the first year just feels more solid, more legit, like the beginning of something bigger as compared to winning the SEC east the first year under MacElwain.

    • Mexi, you hit on something that is a bother to me, and that’s the “legend” of Jeremy Foley. When you peel that onion (Mac, Zook, Andy Lopez, the joke that is the women’s BB program, etc.), it tells that story of a guy who was 50/50 at best with his hires… He didn’t hire SOS or Urban, and his gaffes were massive IMO. He’s just another example that, all to often, tireless self promotion is the true key to “success”.

  10. I was out of town today, just now getting settled back in and I notice that just when I thought this particular topic had expired as it moved down the order, seems like it got resurrected again with some very interesting comments. Kind of reminds me of a similar topic about a year ago, which for the lack of a better term or a better memory I’ll just call, “Was Mac Crazy or What”.

    I opined then, and I opine now, that no, he wasn’t crazy by the manual or even by the forensic definition of insanity, but that by his interpersonal liabilities and attitude toward his position he had dug himself a hole that he couldn’t get out of — and kept on digging at that. What we saw at the very end of his tenure, I sustain at least, was an escape by self sabotage. He wouldn’t be the first high profile person to do it, and I’m sure he won’t be the last. I’m not sure it was a conscious event, but the dynamics would be the same regardless. In any event, we’ll never know if he had the where-with-all to turn it around or not. The default position would of course be that he didn’t — but what if he had mended his ways, gotten rid of Nuss, repented and had been given another chance?

  11. Mac is unqualified for the HBC job at Florida, and probably any important program. He’s lacking in nearly all areas and has very little common sense. Terrible live-game manager seemed to have no clue, even declining penalties on the opposing team when they should have been accepted. “That’s on me” we heard when these boneheaded decisions were brought up in pressers. You’re taking millions from the University you moron we don’t want to hear it.

    Firing Mac and hiring Dan was the best thing that could have happened to our football program. So his players like him? Wonderful. I don’t. And Foley put us in this hole; I’m glad he’s gone too. All behind us now, Go Gators, Hurray for Coach Mullen, Congratulations players on a wonderful 10-win season that nobody saw coming, and Welcome to present and future recruits for joining a Winner!