Jim McElwain regrets sideline tirade, post-game rant

Jim McElwain regrets sideline tirade, post-game rant

Jim McElwain says he regrets tearing into junior running back Kelvin Taylor on the sideline after Taylor drew a penalty for a “throat slash” touchdown celebration gesture late in Florida’s 31-24 win over East Carolina on Saturday.

At his weekly Monday morning news conference in Gainesville, McElwain moved to defuse the sound and fury, while making it clear he wouldn’t tolerate selfish actions from his players.

“I’m not proud of it and neither is my mother, 94 years old,’’ McElwain said. “I got an earful from her, too, and rightfully so.

“Am I proud of it? Absolutely not. Do I feel bad about it? Yes. I make mistakes as well, have to learn about it and move forward. We talked about how hard (Taylor) played. We talked about the lessons and I hugged him, just like I did after the incident happened.’’

Even so, McElwain demoted Taylor from first to third team on the depth chart Monday as the Gators (2-0) prepare for their SEC opener Saturday at Kentucky (2-0).

Taylor wrote on Twitter that he respected McElwain and believed his coaching would make him into a better man. The player’s father, Fred Taylor, a former Gators running back and 13-year NFL veteran, called it an “overreaction’’ during a radio interview, but said “I do understand coaching and I understand the moment.’’ The elder Taylor said his son wants more carries, but in this instance, he “needed to be a smarter player.’’

McElwain, too, was more introspective as he looked ahead to facing Kentucky.

“In case you guys haven’t figured out by now, I’m a pretty passionate guy, a pretty emotional guy,’’ he said Monday.

The video? Yes, it still has shelf life.

“Look at me! Don’t look down! (Bleeping) be a man. You let your (bleeping) team down. That’s (bleeping bleep). And you think it’s (bleeping) OK? Are you (bleeping) kidding me.”

After Saturday night’s game, McElwain was infuriated while describing his displeasure with UF’s performance against East Carolina. His first statement: “That was embarrassing.’’

Other McElwain words: horrible, unacceptable, ridiculous.

In his postgame comments, McElwain said he saw the storm brewing on the Monday following UF’s opening victory against New Mexico State when “30-plus players’’ came to a team meeting without having their ankles taped.

“They were feeling good about themselves, for what?’’ McElwain said. “Because they took care of one opportunity? The way you prepare is how you’re going to play. It’s a bunch of entitlement. Entitled for what? How about investing?’’

Taylor’s gesture sent McElwain over the edge. But in the coach’s mind, it was lumped with other individual acts that harmed the team’s goals.

“It’s not how it’s going to be around here anymore,” he said. “… It’s not the brand or style of ball we’re going to play.”

Most observers seemed to agree with McElwain’s message to Taylor. But how he delivered that message?

“When you are a new coach, you have to establish who you are and what you stand for,’’ said former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland, now an analyst on the SEC Network. “I agree that it’s not a good look. But if he wins as expected, no harm, no foul.’’

“He could’ve made his point and moved on, but he was kind of extra,’’ former Gators receiver Jacquez Green wrote on Twitter. “It was almost like he felt the need to put on a show.’’

The debate rages on, certain to remain part of UF’s season-long narrative.

“It is kind of interesting, but that’s the life we live now,’’ McElwain said Monday. “Everything’s public, right? You’re going to make a story out of whatever you can. I get it.

“At the same time, I know our guys are focused on learning from the past and moving forward to go play a really good Kentucky team.’’