HOOVER, Ala. — Jim McElwain has clearly energized and led the drive to upgrade Florida’s football facilities, but the school had already started moving in that direction before McElwain arrived, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said Thursday.
Muschamp said UF’s subpar facilities had become an issue that needed to be addressed.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” the former UF coach said at SEC Media Days. “You know, there was a plan to move forward. I mean, the indoor that they finished was done. Jeremy (Foley) and I, we had done that about a year and a half before. We agreed to get the indoor done. I think we had a plan moving forward to continue to enhance our situation there. But that’s part of it.
“At the end of the day, we don’t believe in bells and whistles, but recruits do. That’s a fact. And they want to see new. They want to see shiny. They want to see progress. And there’s no doubt that helps you in the program.”
Tigers to challenge Tide
With the addition of quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the highly regarded transfer from Baylor, some are predicting Auburn has a chance to make a run at Alabama in the West this season.
Gus Malzahn certainly seems happy with where his team is at heading into his fifth season.
“This season we have one of the more experienced teams coming back in our league offensively,” Malzahn said. “We hired Chip Lindsey (as offensive coordinator). I’m excited about Chip. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Chip. He’s going to provide more balance for us. And he’s a quarterback guru, too. So I feel very good about that.
“And probably the thing that I’m most excited about is we have quality depth and our quarterback position. And that’s been our Achilles’ heel the last two years. That gives me, I know our coaches and our players, comfort.”
Listening to Malzahn, it sounds like Stidham is the real deal.
“I’ve got a lot of history with Stidham from the standpoint we actually recruited him in high school,” he said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s a lot better athlete than people think. I think he started at wide receiver his sophomore year. He can run. He’s got a 35-36 inch vertical. He runs a 4.6.
“In our league, you have to escape. Things are going to break down. The defensive lines are too good. You have to have a quarterback that can escape pressure, keep his eyes down the field, know when to throw it, know when to run it, and protect the football and make good decisions.
“We had a chance to really evaluate him in the spring. Our defensive line is pretty talented. And so we got a lot of good information. And we like the way he reacted.”
AU happy out West
Although it would make geographical sense to move Auburn to the East and put Missouri in the West, there are no plans for realignment in the league, something Commissioner Greg Sankey reiterated earlier this week.
As for Auburn, Malzahn wants the Tigers to remain right where they’re at.
“Hey, I like the way it is right now,” he said. “The West right now is the best league in college football. It’s a man’s league. You got Alabama right now that is the top of the deal. And I like playing against them. I like playing against them every year. I like playing against LSU. I like Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Texas A&M. So, I think that was probably a little bit blown out of proportion, but I like the way it is.”
Stoops on Stoops
Like everybody else in the college football world, Mark Stoops was stunned by the sudden news earlier this summer that his brother, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, was retiring.
“It’s one of those moments you won’t forget because he called me and it came out of the blue,” Stoops said. “I had really no idea it was coming, but he called me and told me what was going to happen in the future, in the very near future.
“And it was a bit of a shock to me to be honest with you. I had to walk out of my office and walk around the practice field. And that’s where I had that conversation with him away from everybody. So I was shocked. Mixed emotions, I guess you would say from myself. Very proud of him, what he’s done, and very happy for him and Carol and his family, to be able to step away when he wants, how he wants. And that’s Bob.”
Bob Stoops told his brother the time was right to leave.
“That’s kind of him. He walks away when he wants to do it, on his terms,” Stoops said. “And I think it was very important for him to walk away with a good football team with a chance to win his league and get in the playoffs and hand off a program that he took so much pride in building. So I have mixed emotions about it still, but proud of him and hope the very best for him.”