It's been just over two months on the job for Jim McElwain and in his brief period as the University of Florida's head coach, he's pulled off one small victory without a snap of the football. McElwain came away with a stronger recruiting class than was expected when then-Head Coach turned Auburn Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp was fired in November.
In an exclusive interview with 10 Sports Chris Fischer, McElwain wasn't ready to call the beginning of his tenure a rebuilding phase for the program.
"It's the evaluation of everything that is there, we need to keep the good, and do some things within the infrastructure to make it better, said McElwain. "It's a process and a long process and it's been fun."
In the eyes of the Gator nation, a return to glory in the SEC would be their only relief from a rough five seasons. Florida hasn't played for an SEC Championship since 2009, when they lost to Alabama and McElwain, who was then the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator. Now in his return to the SEC, with his own program, McElwain believes he has the pieces and players on the current Gators roster to contend for the SEC East title.
"I didn't come out for a participation ribbon, no matter what you do in life, you go out to be the best and to win," said McElwain. "You got to win now, and the way you win the championship is going out there and winning today."
Winning a conference championship wouldn't be the only way to re-invigorate a dejected fan base, Gators' fans expect offense. McElwain's pedigree and reputation as an offensive coach, is along the lines of what Florida has tasted during past success.
The three-time national champs had the "Fun'n'Gun" with Steve Spurrier and the "Option Attack" under Urban Meyer when they ascended to No. 1 in the nation. Yet McElwain's offense has no-name at this point, but is anticipated to be effective.
"We've put up points and we've put up yards where ever we've been," said McElwain. "It's about the whole team, the offense helping the defense, and the defense helping the offense, as we attack this the offensive years here, they had a pretty good defense."
McElwain will get 15 practices before the Gator faithful get to see the new look team in action during the "Orange and Blue debut" on April 12. And while he admits it will take time to turn the program around, the head coach realizes the expectation to win immediately is always present in Gainesville.
"You get one chance to make it right and that's why we are being patient in everything that we are doing," said McElwain.