Jim McElwain named head coach of Central Michigan

Then-Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain heads out on the field during first half action as the Gators take on Georgia in the annual rivalry at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville on Oct. 28, 2017. Georgia lead 21-0 at the half. [Alan Youngblood/The Gainesville Sun/File]

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Michigan receivers coach Jim McElwain has been named head coach at Central Michigan.
Central Michigan announced McElwain’s hiring Sunday. He replaces John Bonamego, who went 1-11 in his fourth season after taking the Chippewas to three straight bowls.
The 56-year-old McElwain was at Michigan for one season. He previously coached at Florida, where he was Southeastern Conference coach of the year in his first season (2015) and went 22-12 overall.
The Gators won SEC East titles his first two years. After a 3-4 start in 2017, McElwain said he and his family had received death threats. His claim couldn’t be substantiated and he parted ways with Florida, agreeing to a $7.5 million buyout.
CMU athletic director Michael Alford called McElwain a “proven winner.”


  1. Back to the level of competition where he belongs. McElwain will likely take Central Michigan to new heights of being boring to watch play football. On the positive side, moving from Ann Arbor to wherever Central Michigan is (I am assuming somewhere in central Michigan) will not be that big a deal.

    A person keeps getting promoted until they reach a job that is above their ability. They then get demoted until they reach a job within their grasp of knowledge. Eastern Michigan is a real powerhouse fit for Mac. Let’s see,what conference are they In. SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, ACC Someone help me outyl.

      • Nope and that’s on Scott Stricklin.

        He traded away the offset in exchange for reducing McElwain’s buyout from $13.9M to $7.5M. The university and the media may lead you to believe that it was negotiated to avoid going to court over “firing for cause”. It would have been a long shot to make it stick. The settlement was all about trading the offset in exchange for making the University look better for believing they could fire him for cause in the first place.

        In comparison, LSU just reached a settlement with Les Miles to play him $1.5M with no offset in exchange for the $6.5M still owed him with an offset.

        • Well isn’t that a bummer. Where does one see the terms of these deals? I am guessing it is public. Not really my business just interested in how the deal went down. It’s in the past and I am glad we have the staff we have now.

          • The offset or more accurately, the elimination of it was lightly reported by the media but buried within the articles. The story were about how the university successfully reduced the payout, not that it gave up the offset in exchange. I’m sure many news outlets failed to mention it altogether. I’ve posited in the past that the university could end up paying more than they would have had to if the offset and $12.9M buyout remain in place (It’s $12.9M, not $13.9M as I erroneously posted above). If McElwain earns over $5.4M post UF through 2022, it was a bad deal by the university. If he earns more than $12.9M in that period, the university wouldn’t have had to pay anything at all.

        • Gator65 (concerning Sly’s post). McElwain could have been fired for “cause” and was basically. And for being a real lousy head football coach in the SEC. But firing him for that would have taken a long lawsuit to settle for both sides, bad publicity for both, and a lot of legal money for both sides which would not have benefited either UF nor McElwain; as both wanted to move on from the sorry episode (Florida from McElwain’s bad coaching and leadership and McElwain from lying about having his and UF players life’s threatened and to a new job elsewhere (no one would have hired him with a UF lawsuit going on). But Sly will never admit or accept any of that most likely.

          • I don’t think it’s been proven that McElwain lied. I believe in this country, everyone has the right to remain silent and considered innocent until proven guilty. With guys like Tay Bang, AKA The Gambler who was betting on the Gators, and lynch mob leaning rabid fans running around, how can you be sure his players and family weren’t threatened? How can you be sure he’s not trying to protect his own gun-toting players who may have made their own retaliatory threats? McElwain is emotional and shouldn’t have blurted it out but after emotional losses by 1 point to LSU and 2 points to TAMU, who could blame him?

            Some Gator fans don’t like it when I am critical of Scott Stricklin. I mean, after all, he did fire the much hated and incompetent McElwain, and brought in a much better replacement in Mullen. Plus, Stricklin looks fit and trim with beautiful pearly white teeth giving him a winning smile especially coupled with that captivating gaze while communicating (similar to Bill Clinton I might add). He’s also hip with his clever tweets and posting pictures of himself teaching at the university and jogging in the morning. He represents the opposite image of McElwain. What’s not to like about him? To me, that’s what you get from a marketing major. It’s all about the brand and superficial. He may be great at public relations but I don’t think he’s very good as a business manager. McElwain was on the hot seat and Stricklin could have waited until the end of the season to do the firing for performance like everyone else. He could have prevented the university from spending extra millions needlessly to clean up the mess. I also question his ethics trying to screw McElwain out of millions by firing him early and then going after Chip Kelly who had been slapped with “failure to monitor” and “show cause”. With Foley, we could boast “winning with integrity” and I was proud of it.

          • I know. It’s sickening and out of control. It’s the reason I’ve been turned off by professional sports. I’ve stuck with college sports because it’s amateur except for the head coach but it’s getting harder to support it out of principle. It’s not just in sports either. CEO pay is ridiculous.

      • gelco. McElwain had a third of his team commit felonies on his watch, all at one time. How is that a good disciplinarian? Mullen is providing much better leadership and direction in that area from my perspective. And I have read where the Florida players agree with that perspective.

        • Well, Swampy, one’s perspective does make a big difference in one’s opinion. The players charged with felonies under Mac were properly suspended. On the other hand, several players were involved in a bar fight in the “Tay Bang” incident(s) earlier this year, and that seemed to get swept under the rug. Now, I suppose you could argue that most of them were Mac’s players, but if CDM is such a great disciplinarian and Mac’s players are/were such bad apples, then why didn’t CDM clean house, ala Muschamp, over that issue. Having the convicted felon rapper Kodak Black as an invited sideline guest doesn’t exactly scream disciplinarian, either.

          • Joe. One has to wonder if Mullen and Stricklin were aware of Kodak’s long criminal record and current serious criminal charges against him. It does seem strange that he was allowed on the field and in the locker room with the players with his criminal record. I doubt you will see him on the sidelines or in the locker room ever again. It seems to me a story that the Gatorsports people should look into. I know I was not aware of his criminal record. In fact, I had no idea who Kodak Black was. I thought maybe it was a new camera the players were using. lol

          • I admit I only knew about Kodak Black and his record from reading Pat Dooley’s column last week, so CDM certainly deserves a pass if he didn’t know. You’re probably right about his sideline invitation being permanently revoked.

          • Hard to blame Mullen for not cleaning house after only being on campus for about a month and trying to turn a 4 win program around quickly. Some of his best players were involved. From what I read about that bar fight, it was actually Tay Bang and his cronies who started trouble and sucker punched Cleveland. Not sure there’s a coach in the country that would clean house after that. It was also Tay Bang who showed up at the players dorm to start trouble when the air rifles and frying pans were brought out, so again, not sure there’s a coach in the country that would clean house after the players are defending themselves on their property. If I’m not mistaken, most of those players were suspended for the first game, which is pretty much what’s expected of that situation. Since that incident though, the players have pretty much stayed out of trouble, which is probably the longest the players have stayed off the police radar in years. Knock on wood! It’s safe to say Mullen has curbed that and is handling things better than the last 3 coaches.

          • Dang it, Joe, how am I gonna argue with Swampy if you go lookin’ up facts and then post ’em on here?!! Seriously, I read the part about Cleveland getting punched, “knocked out badly” according to Tay Bang, if I remember correctly, and thought that was fishy. The fact that the players were some of his best is sort of my point, but if you say they were suspended, then I’ll defer to you on that.

            Regarding “the last 3 coaches”, it was sort of the accepted narrative that Muschamp was given the task of cleaning things up, and it’s sort of accepted history that he did, at the expense of losing some good players, most notably Janoris Jenkins. At the risk of setting your teeth on edge, I’ll mention Mac’s many references to players’ choices and the consequences thereof. I’m not trying to suggest CDM doesn’t have control of the situation, but I do think he needs to deal with the Kodak Black issue, if he hasn’t already, before it turns into a black eye for the program.

            Now, about that 4 win program of last season and the big 5 game turnaround. In my opinion, there’s more than meets the eye here. When you examine the two seasons closely, the 5 game turnaround becomes about a 2 game turnaround, if not only 1 game. Last year’s team played 1 cupcake game all season, compared to 3 for this season, so the 5 game swing is immediately down to 3. Last season they played with a redshirt freshman QB in Franks, who got benched and then put back in when LDR got hurt. If LDR had been healthy for the full season, they probably would’ve beaten A&M and/or LSU in Gainesville. That would’ve given last year’s team 7 or 8 wins, leaving this year’s turnaround at 1 or 2 games. I’m glad CDM won 9 games this season, but it’s not like he worked magic with this team, because there were some very good players in place already. I’ll will, however, give him credit for working magic, or something close to it, with Franks. Franks’ improvement under CDM can’t be denied. I suppose you could insist that Mac couldn’t have won 7 or 8 with last year’s team, but that’s hard to justify given the fact that he won 19 games (would’ve been 20 with the canceled cupcake game) in his first two seasons with scrub QB’s starting over half the games that were played. Regardless of my opinion of the turnaround, I’m happy for 9 wins in the bag with the possibility of a 10th and the evidence of rejuvenated recruiting.

  3. Bonus: His gross yellow teeth already match their team colors! Hopefully, he has learned a few things:

    1. Do not hire a guy wearing a “Fat is the New Sexy” t-shirt to be your strength coach.
    2. Do not hire a clueless moron who only knows three plays to be your offensive coordinator.
    3. Bringing in broken down over the hill back-up quarterbacks is not the secret to success!
    4. Wear socks.

    I also think he may want to keep his pescatorian romantic leanings under wraps until/unless he wins some games and earns the trust of the fans. Dancing around with an inflatable shark during pre-game warm-ups will not go over well in Central Michigan– or anywhere else!

    • As someone who struggles to pass the “tissue test” (learned that from the two chicks on the TV commercial), I cringe at the “yellow teeth” comments, but, Jaws, I have to admit you are hilarious. Now, off to Google “pescatorian”.

        • Come on Joe. Seriously. Fish (a shark in this case) is seafood, and is not referred to as meat (even if someone photographed someone looking like Jim McElwain biting into a shark). Meat is from living creatures that breath air like pigs, cows, and fowl (or bird). You don’t look at the grouper on the table and say, “Pass the meat.” You say, “Pass the fish…or the grouper”. But you look at the steak and might say, “Pass the meat….or the steak.” And you had to know all the above. Or did you go to FSU?

          • Ouch! You cut me to the quick with the suggestion that I could be a Nole. I assure you, “Would you like fries with that?” is not now, nor has it ever been, a part of my professional lingo. While I am aware that many (most?) do not consider fish to be meat, I still maintain that it is the flesh of an animal, and, therefore, meat. I must admit, though, that “pescatarian” was a knew one on me. If GS.com ever realizes the educational value of these comment sections, they may start charging tuition.

          • Joe. When fish become an animal, I will let you know. But please, until then, always check the box that says “no” on the IQ test that questions if fish is meat from the flesh of an animal. And I know you are not FSU educated. You can spell the words, “flesh”, “meat”, “animal” and “fish”. And you know you have to pay for seafood at Winn Dixie.

          • Swampy, I appreciate your concern for my overall knowledge base, and I will await your notification of said status change in the classification of fish. Rest assured that, upon that notification, I will promptly notify my professional association for the proper continuing education credits.

          • Just for fun, the taxonomic classification of fish is as follows:

            Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata

            Still sounds like an animal to me.

        • Well, according to the aforementioned chicks on the teeth whitener commercial, you hold a tissue up to your teeth to compare their whiteness to the tissue. If there’s a significant difference, you fail the test, and, of course, you have to buy the teeth (tooth?) whitener in question, or be forced to never smile again. Sounds like you and I are their target demographic: a stogie smoker and a coffee drinker.

  4. Jaws I’m with you on some things. He was awful. I think he should have told UF he was not ready/right for the job when they asked years ago. A man that knows his abilities would have said I’m not right for the job.

  5. How could that many players be involved in a local credit card scam and not one staff member ever suspect anything. Out of touch with his players is the only possible way this could have gone unnoticed. Oh well, it’s history now. Best of luck to him in his future. Go Gators!

    • Could be the same way SOS didn’t know that Fred Taylor and his buddies were charging pizzas to a stolen credit card. Not really sure how SOS or Mac would know those things without a PI spying on players, but, as you say, it’s all history now.

  6. If you want to see a train wreck of an introduction video, hop on over to the CMU athletics page where Shark Loverboy recorded for the fan base he’s about to frustrate the crap out of. It’s just so bad…so very very bad. I can’t stop watching it over and over it’s so bad.

  7. I wish Coach Mac the best. He squeezed a lot out of a rag-tag bunch of mis-matched offensive players. Two SEC East titles was no easy accomplishment.

    I couldn’t agree more with you Sly on how poorly the firing of MacElwain was handled by Stricklin. It cost the school a lot of money and essentially threw away the rest of the season. That was very unfair to the players and fans.