The Florida Gators’ thunderous close to the 2017 recruiting cycle — including a National Signing Day avalanche of blue-chip players — was an unexpected delight on this Wednesday for nearly any Florida fan.
But no one was more excited by it than Jim McElwain, who got to brag about Florida for more than half an hour in a press conference that was by turns hilarious, triumphant, righteous, and compassionate — and wholly entertaining.
Just some of the highlights:
- McElwain applauding the pep band brought into Florida’s indoor practice facility to help celebrate National Signing Day — before, nearly half an hour later, ribbing them by saying “Did you like (the band)? Then it was my idea.”
- McElwain announcing the signing of Adarius Lemons midway through by saying “Oh, we got another one in” after being handed a piece of paper, joking that he should keep it a secret, and finally admitting “We just got Adarius Lemons.”
- McElwain defending the character of both Lemons and James Robinson, whose surprise signing he backs up substantially — “Here’s the good thing: We get an opportunity to be involved in his life” — while also skewering some reporting about him.
- McElwain vehemently decrying the practice of negative recruiting (“It’s something that we will never do ... we will never stoop to that level”) and saying “We got a good laugh out of it” while very clearly referencing Miami’s attempts to sway Chris Henderson and Brian Edwards.
- McElwain calling Albert and Alberta “reptile people.”
- McElwain sarcastically offering the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson reporter the chance to name Florida’s starting quarterback for spring practice — then, when Thompson suggests that it “looks like” Feleipe Franks is the front-runner for the job, saying “Let’s do it.”
- McElwain responding to a Pat Dooley question including the semi-serious assertion that McElwain is “oblivious” to fan rancor by pushing back, noting that he’d heard from several former Florida coaches about that “passion,” and also arguing that for every person “get(ting) their kicks out of being negative,” Florida enjoys that much and more support.
- McElwain, bluntly asked by Mike Bianchi whether he “reads the message boards,” saying, simply, “No.”
- McElwain responding to another Bianchi question about the difficulty of backing up his “kick down the door” remarks against the Alabama juggernaut by saying the Gators would “get a bigger hammer” and/or “steel-toed boots.”
- McElwain responding to a question mentioning linebacker Levi Jones — who committed to USC after taking off a Florida shirt on Wednesday morning — with bemusement.
- McElwain responding to a question noting that some called him “the worst recruiter in America” a week ago by interjecting with “Still am.”
- McElwain going sotto voce to speak as a recruit might, and also ruminating on the irony of the term “silent verbal.” (“How do those fit?”)
- McElwain answering a question about momentum with a purely facetious “We don’t know what we’re doing.”
- McElwain joking that Luke Del Rio, who suffered injuries to both shoulders and a knee last fall, “was just missin’ one knee” from having a full body’s worth of injuries.
Basically, this was Jim McElwain dialed up not to 11, but to 1,100 — and if you enjoy the smart, wry, sarcastic, and haughty aspects of his approaches to dealing with news media, you will love this press conference, I promise.