JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida's Jim McElwain and Georgia's Kirby Smart took detailed notes during their time at Alabama.
Organizational structure. Recruiting tactics. Practice techniques. Leadership qualities. Game management.
It was basically How to Build a Successful Program 101.
Or How to Become Alabama 2.0.
One of Nick Saban's former assistants sure seems like he has a better grasp on the subject matter than the other.
McElwain and Smart appear headed in opposite directions as unranked Florida and unbeaten Georgia prepare to play their annual rivalry game Saturday at EverBank Field, a Southeastern Conference matchup better known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."
The Gators (3-3, 3-2 SEC) have lost two in a row, are two-touchdown underdogs and are coming off a bizarre week. McElwain said Monday that Florida players and families received death threats amid the team's struggles. He did not contact police and declined to say whether he personally received threats.
School administrators, including athletic director Scott Stricklin, met with McElwain in hopes of gathering more information and helping alleviate any safety concerns. McElwain rebuffed their efforts, prompting a statement from the athletic department that essentially criticized McElwain for being uncooperative.
McElwain backtracked a bit Wednesday, but stopped short of apologizing and again refused to provide details about the threats.
Couple that strange situation with McElwain's inability to develop a quarterback or improve a woeful offense, and it hardly would be a surprise to learn that the administrators are growing weary of McElwain even though he led the team to consecutive Eastern Division titles.
"I know a lot of people are doubting us right now, so it's up to us to prove everybody wrong," Florida linebacker Jeremiah Moon said.
The third-ranked Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0) have way more believers .
Freshman Jake Fromm ranks second in the conference in pass efficiency. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are one of the best running back tandems in the country. Georgia's offense is averaging 43 points a game in league play, and its defense is fourth nationally in scoring.
Throw in Smart's recent recruiting run, and there's plenty of hope beyond 2017.
"He's got things going," McElwain said.
Keeping them going is the challenge. The Gators have won three in a row and 21 of 27 in the series, which has had its share of upsets over the years.
The Bulldogs don't want to be on the losing end again, something Smart made clear during a team meeting Sunday night. Smart asked players to stand up if they had beaten Florida.
"No one stood up," Georgia nose tackle John Atkins said. "The road to win in the East goes through Florida, so you have to be able to beat them. It's a big rivalry. You don't want to lose to a big rival."