He had me at Clarabelle. Hardly an hour into his first news conference at Florida, Jim McElwain already was making absurd references to his poodle playing quarterback.
Jim McElwain possesses something that the last coach lacked: a sense of humor. And in a world of sniping tweets, carping fans and nosey reporters, a football coach can find refuge in the whimsical and the absurd by deflecting the slings and arrows of criticism with goofy non-sequiturs and homespun homilies.
I’m not trying to make him Mary Poppins because McElwain has had his mini-meltdowns, as he did with Kelvin Taylor. And he can be feisty and evasive when reporters push for authentic answers. But I’ll take that over a stonewalling coach sans humor any day.
Another version of The Artful Dodger, shall we say? And I don’t mean to imply that he is leading a merry bunch of thieves and pickpockets. He’s just cagey. And funny. Somewhere between Will Rogers and Steven Wright. And he can be disarming.
Sometimes it’s best to approach obliquely. But in a recent interview with McElwain, I decided to take the hard-nosed/Mike Wallace/inquiring-reporter approach when asking about his skills as a peanut butter gourmand.
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This article originally published by www.gridironnow.com.