Intriguing and thought-provoking theories certainly never get old, and I’ve come up with one of my own.
Like many, mine is not based on cold, hard, irrefutable facts or on information gleaned from unnamed and unseen sources. Mine comes from a strong, gut feeling formed by some observations made from last football season, and some before that.
Ready for it?
Here it is: Jim McElwain wanted to get fired. He wanted to get out of Gainesville and Gator Nation last fall as quickly and lucratively as he could — and he pulled it off.
He orchestrated it quite deftly. As the theory goes, he knew failure off the field and on last season would not be enough to lead to his firing and a big buyout ($12.9 million) from Florida. But he found the tipping point, and he delivered it at that Monday news conference before the Georgia game when he said he, his players and his family had received death threats, supposedly from disgruntled Gator fans.
The UF administration did not buy it and neither did anybody else. It was obvious McElwain was not being truthful. And, my theory goes, that’s exactly the way he wanted to be perceived on the issue.
It led to what McElwain knew it would: UF had a difficult task proving McElwain was being fired for cause, so the two sides (UF and McElwain and his agent) sat down and negotiated a mutual parting of the ways.
McElwain got just what he wanted: freedom from a job he’d grown weary of and happiness in the form of a negotiated buyout of $7.5 million.
So, basically, McElwain earned financial security and got out of a job he no longer liked by failing and lying.
McElwain received his first payment from UF ($3.75 million) on Dec. 1. His second will come on July 1 ($250,000). Then he’ll receive the remaining $3.5 million over the course of the following three years.
That’s quite a deal.
It was obvious to me, and many others, that McElwain — he from the wide-open spaces of Montana — never seemed completely happy or content in his job and in his surroundings. He complained (and rightfully so) about the condition of facilities and struggled to get along with others in the administration.
He really seemed down at times last season, so much so that on two occasions he was asked by a member of the media if something was bugging him or if he didn’t feel well.
Who knows, maybe it was just indifference. Or maybe he just didn’t want to be here any longer.
Whatever it was, it seemed to suck much of the energy out of the football program, something that was reflected on the field and in the weight room, especially in the weight room, based on what we’re hearing now.
Mac shouldn’t be feeling down anymore. The pressure is off. He’s got plenty of money and he’ll certainly coach again. He’ll look for a better fit in his next job.
So, there it is, my thought-provoking theory. Anybody buying it?