Report: Florida may miss out as Alabama expects to retain assistant Mike Locksley

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Jim McElwain decision to wait until after the national championship to add to the Florida Gators coaching staff may have come back to bite him.

Amid reports that Alabama Crimson Tide offensive analyst Mike Locksley was McElwain’s target to fill a vacant role on Florida’s staff, reported Thursday that Alabama “expects to be able to retain” Locksley by moving him to an on-field role, though it did note that the “situation remains fluid.”

It was previously reported by the same outlet on Dec. 30, 2016, that McElwain planned to hire Locksley , though Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman and ESPN’s Brett McMurphy called such a report “premature” that same day.

If he does join UF, Locksley would be doing so off a behind-the-scenes role with Alabama. Prior to that, he was offensive coordinator at Maryland (2012-15), improving the Terrapins’ offense each of his first three years with the program before seeing a decline during a 3-9 season in 2015.

Locksley, 47, is a Washington, D.C., native who has coached in college for 25 years, including a two-season stint with Florida from 2003-04 as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator under then-head coach Ron Zook. Locksley would be a candidate to take over recruiting coordinator duties for the Gators now that Randy Shannon has been promoted to defensive coordinator.

Florida’s recruiting classes ranked No. 1 and No. 5 nationally in Locksley’s two seasons, falling to No. 12 after Zook’s firing ahead of the 2005 campaign.

After his time at UF, Locksley followed Zook as offensive coordinator at Illinois (2005-08), where he improved the Illini offense every season from 108th in 2005 to 40th in 2008 and recruited a number of talented playmakers on both sides of the ball, including Arrelious Benn and Vontae Davis — both D.C. natives. He parlayed that success into his only head coaching job at New Mexico, where he went 2-26 in three seasons from 2009-11.

Locksley earned $650,000 annually coordinating Maryland’s offense, making him the 14th-highest paid assistant in 2015. He took a substantial pay cut last season to work under Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin at Alabama, earning $45,000 as an analyst, according to .

One way McElwain would still get Locksley into the fold would be to have him split offensive coordinating duties with current assistant Doug Nussmeier , who received praise after the season from McElwain — and Saban for that matter — despite earning criticism from fans. Locksley could also serve in a role similar to the one Shannon had under Collins as a “co-coordinator” without a specific side of the ball listed on his title.

FootballScoop also reported on Jan. 4 that Crimson Tide assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal was a candidate for a job with the Gators, though Cristobal has always been more likely to link up with Oregon and head coach Willie Taggart.

On Thursday, FootballScoop reported that Cristobal is interviewing with Western Michigna on Friday for its head coaching position. Cristobal has been looking to lead […]