Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Which new coach satisfies the Gator fans fastest?

in Sports/Top Headlines by

Who succeeds first?

Who can make the admittedly greedy hearts of the University of Florida Gators fans satisfied quicker?

Jim McElwain? Mike White? Either? Both?

It is a transitory time in Gainesville. The Gators dumped former football coach Wil Muschamp, although they seemed to do so with a tear in their eye, and then longtime basketball coach Billy Donovan decided to bolt for the Oklahoma City Thunder. This time, evidently, he plans on hanging around the NBA for a while.

So who satisfies the faithful first? McElwain, who seeks the team’s fourth college football title? Or White, who seeks its third basketball title?

And, as a Gator fan might ask, why not both?

There has never been a lack of ambition in Gainesville. Florida fans act as if winning is a birthright, and darn the growing pains. When the Gators don’t win, it is as if it is an affront to the senses. Good is never good enough. Most college places are like that anymore, but none more than Florida, where the swagger is handed out on the first day of classes.

So far, McElwain has been embraced by the faithful, and many of them have understood that his late arrival had a negative effect on the team’s recruiting reviews. Still, McElwain has not coached a game yet. How do fans react if he gets off to a slow start – and the Gators’ schedule is fairly imposing. The Gators play, among others, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Missouri, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and FSU. It would help ease McElwain’s acceptance if he could win a few upset games and manage to take care of the rest.

Then there is White. Sunday, Donovan took out a full-page ad in the Gainesville Sun thanking them for their support during his time. Certainly, it was a good deal for both. In 19 seasons under Donovan, the Gators won two titles, made four Final Fours and seven Elite Eights. The success was unprecedented.

Now comes White, a relatively unknown 38-year-old from Louisiana Tech. Obviously, athletic director Jeremy Foley thinks he has duplicated the hire he made long ago in Donovan.

But White has his challenges, too, most notably the presence of Kentucky in the same conference sub-division.

How soon can White make Gator fans forget about Donovan? How soon can McElwain make them forget about Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, the coaches who won the Gators’ national titles?

What time do you have?

This year sounds good.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

Latest from Sports

Go to Top