MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Two days after berating running back Kelvin Taylor on the sideline, Florida coach Jim McElwain expressed regrets about his behavior.
“I’m not proud about it and neither is my mother,” the coach said Monday.
McElwain stopped short of apologizing for his profanity-laced tirade, during which he yelled at Taylor “look at me! Don’t look down! (Expletive) be a man!”
McElwain said he hopes to learn from the situation.
“I don’t feel good about it,” McElwain said at his weekly news conference. “As you know, this is a very public job. This is a public thing that we do. I understand that I have a long ways to go and I make mistakes. … Am I proud of it? Absolutely not. Do I feel bad about it? Yes. At the same time, I’ve got to understand my mistakes as well and learn from it and go forward.”
Taylor, the son of retired NFL running back Fred Taylor, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after making a throat-slash gesture following a touchdown in Saturday’s 31-24 victory against East Carolina.
When Taylor got to the sideline, McElwain laid into him in front of teammates, coaches and about 90,000 fans.
A video clip of the exchange went viral Sunday, and the topic dominated McElwain’s media availability Monday.
“It is kind of interesting, but that’s the life we live now,” McElwain said. “Everything’s public, right? You’re going to make a story out of whatever you can. I get it. At the same time, I know our guys are focused on learning from the past and moving forward to go play a really good Kentucky team.”
The Gators aren’t likely to move past the story anytime soon.
McElwain demoted Taylor from first to third team on the depth chart Monday, and Fred Taylor told The Associated Press his son won’t start at Kentucky on Saturday night.
“Being a starter is not the end of the world, but what point are you trying to make?” Fred Taylor said. “Are you trying to show the media that you’re going to be a no-nonsense guy? Or are you trying to get the players’ attention? I thought you did that already.”
Taylor also said he understood why McElwain was upset with the gesture, which has long been outlawed in college and professional football.
“I get why he was upset,” Taylor said. “Kelvin has to be smart, especially if you’re going to be a leader and be someone they’re going to depend on. (The tirade) was probably a little extreme, but maybe that’s his thing and he’s trying to make that clear.”
McElwain said last month he was working to eliminate “selfish acts” during games, essentially trying to clean up a program that was the most penalized team in the Southeastern Conference over the last five years.
He said he planned to bench players who committed pointless penalties during games. But Kelvin Taylor was back on the field for the next series after his penalty.
Teammate Joey Ivie IV, a junior defensive tackle, also drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against East Carolina but didn’t get the same scolding. Granted, Ivie was flagged for taking off his helmet during an on-field touchdown celebration, but both cost the Gators 15 yards.
Unlike Taylor, Ivie was still listed as starter on the depth chart Monday.
“I think (McElwain) did the right thing,” senior guard Trip Thurman said. “On any team, the head coach is a father figure. He wants the best out of his players. What we’re trying to do as a team … not do throat slashes and try to cut down on penalties. Kelvin knows what he did wrong. We learned from it and we’re going to move along. Coach loves us all.”
Added safety Marcus Maye: “I guess he was just trying to let Kelvin know that that wasn’t acceptable. We all know the thing that he did, it’s a penalty. Coach always harps on the unsportsmanlikes, the small things that don’t help us win and just hurt ourselves.”
A junior from Belle Glade, Taylor leads the team with 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Either Jordan Cronkrite or fellow freshman Jordan Scartlett is expected to start against the Wildcats.
McElwain, meanwhile, has another concern. He got “an earful” from his 94-year-old mother after the game.
“Rightfully so,” McElwain said. “I’m by no means perfect and I do know our players know how much I care about them.”
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