As many of you already know, the NFL Scouting Combine got started over the weekend. One of the many storylines in Indianapolis is former Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway. The talented receiver missed the entire 2017 college football season after getting caught in the credit card fraud that sidelined multiple players. So during the media portion of the combine, Callaway was asked about the Gators 4-7 season and the firing of head coach Jim McElwain. His comments were very interesting to say the least.
“I know him getting fired and all that was (because of) me, because of the season they had,” Callaway said. “I know I could’ve made a big difference.
”To see the program go down like that and coach Mac lose his job? That hurt me because I know it was basically because of me. I know I could’ve made a big difference. I made a mistake. I was young.”
To be fair, all of this is not on Callaway, but he does play a huge part in McElwain’s failure. But he is not the only player who played a part in the state of the Gators program right now. West Virginia quarterback Will Grier was the other player responsible that sealed the fate of McElwain. Grier was the last capable quarterback the Gators had since Tim Tebow. If you don’t believe me let’s go back to McElwain’s first season as the Gators head coach. I think every Gator fan knows who much of a roll this team was on after Callaway’s game clinching touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers.
The buzz grew even more when the Gators upset the then #3 Ole Miss Rebels in a game that they just dominated from start to finish. At this point, the Gators were the hottest team in college football and the recruits started to notice as well. Just as the fanfare and momentum started to build, the team suffered a huge setback right before the LSU game. Grier was suspended for one year after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Grier would have been available for the 6th game the following season, but wanting his starting job back once he returned. Once McElwain told him he was not willing to do that, Grier decided to transfer to West Virginia.
As for Callaway, he was the Gators best offensive player before and after Grier transferred but couldn’t get out of his own way. Callaway was cited for marijuana possession a few times and also suspended for an accusation of sexual assault. The credit card fraud case that sidelined him this season was the straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of Gator fans. As good as Callaway was on the field, many felt like he wasn’t worth the distraction of having him on the team. He acknowledge that he had a conversation with new head coach Dan Mullen about returning but was told to pursue his dreams.
While there were other reasons that lead to McElwain getting fired, these two individuals played a major play in his fate as well. But I know many Gator fans wonder where will their program be if none of this stuff happened.