Jim McElwain‘s tenure as the Florida Gators‘ head football coach started off great. After winning the SEC East twice, winning 19 games over two seasons and finishing in the AP Top 25 both years, McElwain was fired after a 3-4 start in 2017.
Now the wide receivers coach at Michigan, the 56-year-old is likely to land another starting job before he hangs it up. However, a former Florida quarterback just dropped a bombshell report that will have schools thinking twice before hiring McElwain.
Luke Del Rio, who is a regular podcaster discussing all things Florida Gators football, played quarterback for Jim McElwain at Florida from 2015-17. Named the starter in 2016 and 2017, injuries ultimately forced Del Rio out of football.
During his podcast on Wednesday, Del Rio detailed the story of his R.J. Raymond, who Del Rio says will be the best man in his wedding. Raymond, who is listed as a linebacker, playing in all 11 games last season for the Gators primarily as a special teams player.
The walk-on, alongside offensive lineman Nick Villano, recently earned a scholarship from new Florida head coach Dan Mullen.
In classic scholarship reveal fashion, Dan Mullen made sure to announce it in front of the entire team.
Del Rio says that this isn’t the first time Raymond has received a scholarship at Florida, though.
In fact, he cites multiple cases where walk-ons earned scholarships under Jim McElwain, only to have them revoked in favor of incoming recruits.
It’s something that typically doesn’t happen, especially without warning, and Del Rio goes so far as to call McElwain a “coward” for pulling the scholarships.
The former walk-on himself details the time when his friend, as well as former Gator teammates, had their scholarships taken.
“Every half year… you are sent a letter, an official scholarship letter that says ‘here’s what you’re going to get paid,’ just like a scholarship renewal letter, right? Well, R.J. got his letter, and this happened to several people [Case Harrison, Garrett Stephens, Steven Stipe].”
“He got a letter, it said ‘Scholarship Renewal’ and he’s like “Sweet. Yup, I’ve been on scholarship for six and a half months now. Cool.” He opens it up, it says everything that our [scholarship letters] say, but all of the dollar values were goose eggs.
“Now, if you can think of a more passive-aggressive way to tell someone that they are no longer on scholarship? Tell me.”
While there are no NCAA violations here, the allegations against McElwain, should they be corroborated and found to be true, will forever stain his reputation as a respected head football coach.
Why would any player, let alone their parents, want to be subjected to a coach who, at a moment’s notice, could just pull the safety net of a scholarship out from under you, forcing student loans to be taken into action.
According to Del Rio, McElwain never even spoke to the players face-to-face about it — This is cold, cruel and downright sad.
Should he pursue it, Jim McElwain would likely get another head coaching job in the future.
But if he treats players, especially walk-ons with everything to lose, like this, does he really deserve it?