McElwain says he was wrong to cite death threats

Florida football coach Jim McElwain talks to the media during his weekly news conference Wednesday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. After commenting that he and players had received death threats during his Monday news conference, McElwain said the threats were in the past and were anonymous and that the team is moving past the comments. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]


Two days after claiming players and families connected with the Florida football program have received death threats, a contrite coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday that he let his emotions get the best of him and it was wrong for him to bring up the subject at his Monday news conference.

“I speak to our guys all the time and the people within our organization about shutting out the noise and not letting the clutter get to you,” McElwain said. “Sometimes things are on your mind and I go ahead and speak. It doesn’t make it right.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and obviously allowing the clutter to get to you is not what it’s all about. Obviously, our guys are aware of it, we’ve talked about it. You know we’re ready to go play Georgia and move forward. The people have been great. That’s very comforting.”

Although apologetic, McElwain still refuses to disclose exact details of the threats, only saying there were just a few anonymous ones that were made sometime in the past. He would not say how far in the past.

He also still will not reveal who received the threats. When asked if he and his family had been directly threatened, he responded with a non answer.

“Obviously, I understand that’s the news. It goes with the territory. You know what, it’s hard to leave (that stuff alone) sometimes,” McElwain said. “You know how much I care about this program, these players. Obviously, everything that goes in with it. But ultimately allowing one or two (bad people), and who even knows who it was, right? You don’t know. It’s anonymous. So, that is what it is, and I’m confident we’re all right.”

McElwain’s revelation of the threats turned into a firestorm after the University Athletic Association released a statement Monday night following a meeting between McElwain, athletic director Scott Stricklin and associate athletic director Laird Veatch. The statement concluded with the line that McElwain had offered no further details of the threats.

To many, that was viewed as an indication that McElwain was being uncooperative and perhaps untruthful.

McElwain said Wednesday he wasn’t sure what the statement meant.

“You know, I don’t really quite understand what even the statement was,” he said. “We visited with Scott and Laird and, yeah, they were really good and supportive.

“We had a really good talk. The fact that it happened in the past, wasn’t just spur of the moment. It’s just something that came up and obviously was on my mind. It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it right to air that laundry, and yet, at the same time, they’ve (given) total support.”

Had McElwain provided school officials with details, and the threats were deemed serious, the school would have asked the University Police Department to look into the matter. But, in this case, it never went that far.

“We have not been asked to look into any death threats made against any university student-athletes or coaches,” UPD Maj. Brad Barber said.

Maj. Barber said he does not recall UPD ever investigating threats made against any UF athletes or coaches.

McElwain basically apologized Wednesday for ever revealing the anonymous threats in the first place, saying he let his emotions get the better of him and he should have known better.

“It’s exactly what I tell our guys not to do, let something like that creep into the focus on what you’re here to do,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s really what it is.”

McElwain was asked if the people close to him were caught off by his revelation of the threats Monday.

“I would say it was probably out of character in that standpoint to take things the way that is … rather than a grain of salt,” he said. “And ye,t at the same time, know this, we’ve got really good people here who are concerned and that will be there every step of the way.”

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  1. This is pure gibberish in defense of deception. I really don’t care who might replace him, I’m just sick of Mac’s entire approach. It’s a shame our players don’t have better coaching, and I look forward to the day when this doofus leaves Hogtown, and takes his bumbling non-speech and cheap sauce with him.

  2. I called shenanigans on this death threat nonsense within minutes of the original reporting.

    Where are all the posters who did everything from calling me bad names, accusing me of sending the death threats and questioning my morality, now that this bizarre and nonsensical story has been blown to pieces?

    Don’t worry. I’m a big boy. Who doesn’t necessarily believe everything that comes out of people’s mouths.

  3. Pat just Chill out with all of this firing the Coach Mess. You keep firing Coaches, you will never win as the recruits will go somewhere else. Coach Mac is doing a great Job. Yes the offense has not been what we have expected, however if you take the number one wide receiver and the number one running back off of any team and also start a red shirt Freshman QB, most teams will struggle offensively. Look at FSU–they only lost the QB. Bottom-line, we have gone to the SEC championship game each of the last two years and have won the East two years in a row,. We have a bunch of young players who are contributing and we have a great recruiting class. The future is bright. Just cheer on the gators and stop all of the negativity. The wins will come. Go GATORS.

    • Allen, Pat and a lot of other fans live in a dream world where it doesn’t matter who they lose to injury or suspensions they should put up 800 yard of offense and 80 pts every week with 4th stringers. This delusional way of thinking also tells them they’re going to be able to replace Mac with a top tier coach who will win no matter what he loses personnel wise. In reality no top tier coach is going to want to come deal with the stress that comes along with having to deal with fans that have these kind of delusional expectations. What coach in their right mind would want to come to a program where the fans aren’t happy with a coach doing something no other SEC coach in history has done in winning back to back SEC division titles his first 2 seasons? Not only doing that, but doing it what a patchwork team without a legit QB. There wouldn’t be enough money in the world for them to have to come deal with that BS. No one on the fire Mac side of this fan base can actually give an explanation to the fact that FSU loses 1 player and goes 2-4 or that Clemson has 1 player knocked out of the game against unranked Syracuse and loses. It’s like they just completely block out those 2 perfect examples of why Mac has struggled and demand excellence no matter what. It’s beyond crazy!

      • Joe, I don’t think UF can get a top-tier Coach right now, and I don’t care: Mac has shown himself to be a lousy head coach, despite being propped up by the “Aw Shucks” corner here at GatorSports, that gave him a full-page free ad to push his tacky jerk sauce on the home crowd. He is dishonest and low-rent, and can’t get fired quick enough for me.

  4. It seems Mac spoke off the cuff, no doubt is feeling pressure of losing 2 back to back home games and faced with a very good UGA team that could embarrass UF Saturday. It would be nice to clarify further his initial statement because still the idea of death threats to staff/players lingers and you can best bet will be used in negative recruiting. I’m sure this is a new experience for Mac being somewhat on the hot seat and he seems to be a very emotional guy, a descent guy. His emotions got the best of him and he said things I’m sure he wishes he hadn’t. He made a huge mistake but let’s be honest, we all do. Forgiveness is a great virtue and I hope Gator Nation will not hold this against Mac. Frankly, I’m not sure how I’d act if you have thousands of fans unhappy with your performance. Yes he gets paid well but still, upset fans can be very rude. Having said all this he has to fix the offense and until that happens, criticism will continue. Fans have supported UF for several years of putrid offense by attendance. Patience is wearing thin.

  5. He doesn’t sound “apologetic” to me at all. He still sounds defensive, evasive, and bumbling. Saying you made a mistake and saying you are sorry are two entirely different things. Yeah – we all make mistakes, and I am willing to chalk it up to that. What would have been right thing to do was to actually apologize, i.e. “I am sorry that I smeared the entire Gator Nation because I over-reacted to the actions of a very few sick people. The Gator fans are second to none, and the team, the other coaches, and I personally appreciate them and the way they support the Gator sports programs, particularly the football program.” This is what an apology sounds like, not a bunch of sorry bush league excuses for a man that is sadly in way over his head, and belongs somewhere else. I remain 100% behind the players. Coach Mac lost me with this one. True colors always show when the pressure is on. The first real pressure since he has been here, and he folds like a cheap suit. He threw the Gator Nation under the bus, and now he has backed over us again with this flimsy BS. It baffles me how the journalists interpreted this sorry performance as apologetic in any way, but I guess that’s how you keep your Press Pass so you can continue to be a part of the BS machine. Wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the snacks in the Press Box.

  6. We’re 48 hours away from the Cocktail Party and nobody is even talking about it because of this idiot who somehow got hired as head coach. I’m sick of looking at him, trying to listen to his rambling incoherent nonsense and putting up with his Pee-Wee level decision making in games. Terrible hire, Foley.

  7. Tunafish, nobodies talking about the Georgia game because y’all don’t wanna talk about it. All you intronet posters know how to do is attack, attack,attack! Y’all talk about the media smelling blood and going after it and y’all do the exact same thing! Friggin hypocrites. The very first sign (Michigan), and bar a few true Gators I’ve seen here it was attack, attack, attack! I don’t like what’s going on right now any more than y’all do, but it’s gotten down right disgusting how some of y’all are acting. Makes me wonder if after you post your venom you go put on your black mask, grab a stick and hit the streets denouncing hatred while you club a few seals.

    Sorry…a little frustrated right now. Letting my age show.


    • Narcoossee (whatever) – A “Friggin hypocrite” is one who ups the ante by directing “venom” like “attack, attack, attack,” and “disgusting” comments like “black mask” and “club seals” at posters who are commenting on the latest gaffe in a long line of gaffes from a program that is getting more and more difficult to be proud of with each passing day. The dialogue is not about the Georgia game because the head coach led us away from it. So I guess if you attack the posters, denounce their fan creds, and use incendiary insults about clubbing seals, that enhances the quality and appropriateness of your comments? Transference is an immature psychological coping mechanism that facilitates demonizing those who hold views similar to one’s own. Based on your immature and hyperbolic comments, I would peg your developmental age at about 8 years old. Clubbing seals? Where in the dark recesses of your twisted mind did that come from?

  8. Somebody hit it on the head above describing Coach McElwain’s message – it’s “transference” – the redirection of attitudes and emotions towards a substitute.

    Two weeks ago we got those truly horrible uniforms for our Texas A&M game (the colors reminded me of the GI Joe toy soldiers I used to have – the only thing missing were orange pistol holsters) – now we have player death threats that may or may not have happened and if they did, possibly sometime in the past.

    No discussion of the biggest games of the year – let’s get back to football please. Huge game against the Leg-humpers! Let’s beat UGA and get the season back on track!

  9. Trooper…thanks for the psycho evaluation. Knew when I was pecking that that it would ruffle a few feathers. Yea, I’m the crazy one for getting tired of the absolute nonstop negativeness here (and all forums). Gators lose a few games, coach isn’t what you expected, frosh QB not living up to expectations and on an and on.
    Well I tell you what…I’m too old for this and it’s not how this Gator rolls. You all are obviously too smart for me and the dark recesses of my old mind.
    Have at it boys. Gators suck…right?

  10. Nah, I’ve yet to see a post about the game this week. Why? Because someone said here “it’s Mac’s fault we aren’t talking the Georgia game.” My favorite this week was when Gardner said something about Georgia not impressing him (paraphrasing), and the first thing I saw was something like ‘learn how to tackle or keep your mouth shut (again, paraphrasing). Nothing possitive here. But now that I’ve been labeled a ‘psycho’ I guess I can say just about anything and now I have an excuse. Like when I commented that some here talk about the big bad media circling their prey when they smell blood then spew the stuff I’ve seen here for weeks on end and I call them hypocrites, I’m a loon. Gimme a break. I’m dumb but I aint stupid. I tried a few times to talk about the upsets in Jax (both ways)…nuttin. Or how we just might have a shot up there because I’ve seen it with my own eyes…nuttin. Nuthin but Mac sucks. Nuss sucks. The AD sucks. The new unis suck. Everything sucks. And I’m crazy for not wanting to read this crap day after day? And by the way Trooper (is that Highway Patrol or Starwars), It’s Narcoossee Gator Club…NARCOOSSEE GATOR CLUB, where on Mondays we constructively criticize, have a snort of Crown and then talk about the ways we can win next Saturday. But I understand that’s just not the way it is now. Like I said before, I don’t know if you guys could have survived the 80’s around here. Or try an 0-10-1 on for size. That’s jumping out of windows stuff for you people, huh? So it’s obvious my brand of Gator Fan doesn’t belong in this new age atmosphere of ‘everything Gator football sucks’. God I hope non of you people sit next to me in Jax this weekend. I just might have to jump off the top row…because I’m psycho!