BRADENTON -- Good friendships last forever.
It was evident Saturday when Paul Maechtle showed up unexpectedly at new head coach Jim McElwain's introductory press conference at the University of Florida.
Maechtle, the former Southeast High football coaching legend, went to Gainesville on his own to pay tribute to McElwain.
When he first got to the press conference, Maechtle was not admitted because he had no credentials.
When McElwain learned of the situation, he sent a text telling UF officials that Maechtle was one of his special guests and the Hall of Fame coach should be allowed into the festivities.
Then McElwain went a step further, mentioning Maechtle during the press conference after being asked about his relationships in the state of Florida.
"One of my good friends, former coach, Bradenton Southeast, Coach Maechtle, that goes way back when I first got into this state. Being able to do do that, seeing those guys, I'm excited," McElwain said.
Maechtle first met McElwain in the mid 1990s when he was invited to a golf tournament in Montana, where McElwain was coaching.
The two formed a friendship that has lasted nearly 20 years and was rekindled when McElwain was recruiting former Southeast defensive back Brian Poole, now a junior defensive back for Florida.
"He is a great person, and when I left Montana after our first meeting I didn't think I would ever see him again," Maechtle said. "It was tough because he is such a good person. But things happened. He went to Louisville and Michigan State and recruited our area. Then he went to Alabama, where he tried to recruit Brian Poole."
Maechtle said he will never forget one day during Poole's junior year of high school when McElwain and Steve Addazio (the current Boston College head coach) showed up at Southeast at the same day and time to visit Poole.
"They were both friends of mine, and it was kind of awkward that they showed up at the same day and same time," Maechtle said. "This (coaching business) is all about rekindling relationships, and McElwain is very good at that. He used the term relationships numerous times during his press conference because he really believes in its importance."
Maechtle says McElwain has a keen offensive mind and he expect things to improve for the Gators, who struggled mightily on offense last season under former head coach Will Muschamp, who was fired recently.
Maechtle also spent some time Saturday with Poole, who told his old coach he expected to return to Florida for his senior year.
"Brian remembered coach McElwain from when he was recruiting him and just wanted to know about him," Maechtle said. "I think he will do well. He showed his versatility at Alabama when he was offensive coordinator for two national championship teams, and his receiver this season at Colorado State, Rashard Higgins, was among the best."
Higgins leads the country with 1,640 receiving yards, 17 receiving touchdowns and receiving yards per game (149.1 average). Garrett Grayson, Colorado State's quarterback, is second nationally in passing efficiency and sixth in passing yards, passing yards per completion and passing yards per game.
McElwain the spent the last three years as head coach at Colorado State, where he resurrected a struggling program. He was offensive coordinator at Alabama for four years prior to coming to Colorado State.