Things didn’t go his way last time Florida and Alabama met on the football field when the Crimson Tide beat the Gators 29-15, but Florida coach Jim McElwain can’t wait to compete against his former mentor on the gridiron again.
“I know what an honor it was to work for coach [Nick Saban], what I was able to learn when I was at the University of Alabama,” McElwain said. “And I was excited to be able to play him. I know this, I’ll be excited to play him again this year, because I know it’s in Atlanta.”
Securing a return trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game won’t be easy. Another former Saban assistant, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, might want to take a shot at knocking off the Crimson Tide.
“I’m so excited for Kirby. He’s one heck of a ball coach. He’s a great guy. He’s going to do it the right way. It’s a place obviously near and dear to him, being a native there, obviously playing there, all of the things that go into it,” McElwain said. “…We’ll get together and laugh about some stories, and that’s always fun. And yet it doesn’t matter. When you kind of blow the whistle, you know, it’s your guys against their guys and [you] see who comes out.”
The laughter between the old friends can continue at least until the Gators and the Bulldogs meet on Oct. 29 in Jacksonville, Florida.
McElwain said he still remembers some of the most important lessons he learned during his time in Tuscaloosa.
“Coach [Saban], you know, he only asked a couple of things, is work hard and be complete in what you do,” McElwain said. “If you think about it, all of us kind of live by that. We have a pretty good chance to be successful. That’s something I’ll always take. And yet, when I was head off to Colorado State, he pointed something out. He said: ‘Whatever you do, you got to do it your way. You got to be you. You can’t be someone else.’”
McElwain might not be able to replace Saban, but a good impression could keep the Gators headed in the right direction- A direction that might require the student and the mentor to compete for championships on a regular basis.
“I think he [Saban] can go forever,” McElwain said. “He’s — that’s just the way he’s wired. And I haven’t seen one thing, when we were around each other that week of the SEC Championship game, I didn’t see one less bounce in his step, anything like that. And, you know what? He’s — the guy’s something special.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports