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Florida’s Jim McElwain: Gators will “kick the door down” in 2017 SEC Championship Game

A big promise from Florida’s head man.

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

During a TV timeout in the first half of Florida’s men’s basketball team’s game against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain — in attendance with this weekend’s crop of official visitors — addressed the sellout crowd.

And he made as bold a proclamation as he has made since being hired at Florida.

“It’s because of these guys, when we get back to Atlanta this season, we’re gonna kick the door down!”

McElwain became the first coach in SEC history to take an SEC East team to the SEC Championship Game in his first season at the helm in 2015, then the first coach in SEC history to take his team to back-to-back SEC Championship Games in his first two seasons in 2016.

But his Gators have been thumped by the Alabama Crimson Tide in both of those games, falling to the eventual national champions by a 29-15 count in 2015 and to the eventual national runners-up by a 54-16 score in 2016.

McElwain promising his team will “kick the door down” in 2017 is a stirring rallying cry, to be sure — but it’s also an implicit promise to topple Alabama, college football’s reigning dynasty despite a close loss to Clemson in the 2017 National Championship, and the SEC West champion three years running.

If the Gators pull it off, McElwain will look prophetic.

If the Gators can’t, McElwain will look pathetic.