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I see myself in Jim McElwain, and I’m finally starting to like him

Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit it: I don’t understand how Florida’s football staff is pulling this off. These Gators coaches are pulling off the best sales job since I convinced a woman way out of my league to marry me nearly 20 years ago.

Now that I think about it, we must have sold the exact same bill of goods to get the job done. We sold the future.

I knew that if I told this woman that the man standing in front of her was as good as it was going to get, I’d get nowhere. We married young, before life beat the hell out of us, before we really even knew who we were.

It was possible then to realistically dream about how great and easy life would be because our screw-ups still could be chalked up to youth. It’s not like the ring I could afford at that time would sway this princess; I had to convince her to dream about future rings.

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See where I’m going?

Do you really think that a five-star quarterback with offers from nearly everyone looks at what the Gators have established offensively and decides to make the move to Gainesville based on that track record?

Do you really think Jim McElwain has the swagger and street cred to just tell recruits they should be in Gainesville based solely on what he has done and his reputation as a coach? This coach doesn’t have the swagger of Urban Meyer. This coach doesn’t have the history of Nick Saban. This coach doesn’t have the reputation of Jim Harbaugh.

Like me 20 years ago, McElwain isn’t selling that this is as good as it’s going to get. Like me, he doesn’t have any rings from his time at Florida that would impress elite recruits. Like me, he can’t show how much better his facilities are than other programs.

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As they read this, I know Gators fans will be yelling about the great Florida campus and how Florida sells itself. You’re wrong. I work with big-time FBS football recruits on a daily basis; few look at anyone other than Alabama in that light. These guys want to know where they fit, how they will be groomed for the NFL, who else is coming with them and how many championships their class can win.

What in the world could this guy possibly be selling?

McElwain has to be an elite salesman in a profession full of guys at the top of the sales food chain. Take a close look at the commitments in this class; McElwain is not only recruiting Florida well, he’s stretched out to grab top prospects from all over the nation. Among the 17 players who have committed to Florida’s 2018 class are players from California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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I’ve never really been a big Jim McElwain fan, but that’s changing. How can I not respect someone who can convince guys to believe in him?

Sure, I know there are a lot of con men who have that same attribute, but that’s also an attribute shared with the most successful people in the world. If he fools all of us, shame on him. But I respect his hustle.

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(You can follow Denny Thompson on Twitter @denny_thompson)

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