DESTIN – Until Jim McElwain came along, football facilities never seemed to be an issue at Florida. If they were, no one wanted to talk about them. Now that McElwain has brought up the topic so often in the short time he’s been in Gainesville, everyone seems to be questioning just how far behind the Gators are in the SEC in terms of facilities.
Some of the first questions McElwain was asked at the SEC spring meetings Tuesday had to do with facilities.
How do the Gators stack up with the rest of the league?
“Well, we’ve got a ways to go,” he said. “We’ve got some great things going on with our housing situation, our Office of Student Life, obviously, the indoor (practice facility). There’s a lot of things, and yet we have a lot of great things to offer at the University of Florida. At the top with the Taj Mahal with what’s going on out there? No. But at the same time, we’re making movements. We’ve got great support administratively as far as knowing we’re just a little bit behind.”
McElwain was asked if the Gators needed the Taj Mahal level to compete in the SEC.
“Well, you know, that’s all part of it,” he said. “And yet we’re going to go ahead and whatever we have is going to be something that’s all for the kids to be successful. Right now, we’re putting a lot of our resources in the things that are outside. I’m talking the academic part, the future after football part, a lot of those things that benefit these guys directly right now.”
The reality is, this isn’t something new at Florida, according to former head coach Steve Spurrier, who said the facilities weren’t all that good when the Gators were winning SEC titles and a national championship in the 1990s.
“They have never been considered the top because we did not have an indoor facility and practice fields,” Spurrier said. “We had a 100-yarder and about an 80-yarder and that was it. We had a lot of good players though, so that offsets facilities, that’s for sure.
“Florida obviously had a lot of success the last 20 years or so without the best facilities in the country. Now they are adding to keep up with everybody else sort of like we all do. They are behind a little bit right now, but certainly they should be there in a year or two.”