If a segment of the Florida fan base is upset with Jim McElwain after back-to-back SEC East titles in his only two years on the job, what will they think of him should the Gators collapse to a 5-6 overall record in 2017?

According to Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun, that isn’t out of the realm of possibility should the team lose Saturday at home against Tennessee.

Dooley was a guest on the Paul Finebaum Show Thursday and shared his opinion that the Gators could not afford to drop this weekend’s game to Tennessee if it has any hopes of having a good season.

“I think this is a must win game for Florida. Not for McElwain’s (Florida) career, but for this season,” Dooley said on the air. “I don’t see how a loss here, going forward, how this can be a great season or even a good season for Florida. They need to win this game, they have to find a way to win it.”

After stating the importance of the game, Dooley would go on to note that Florida has already lost an opportunity at an easy win following the cancellation of the Northern Colorado game and faces only one game that projects to be a layup over the remainder of the schedule.

“This season could go either way,” Dooley continued. “If they can win this game, they could still have a really nice year. It’s not like anyone on their schedule is unbeatable, however, there isn’t anyone on their schedule outside of UAB — which is just restarting football — that you look at and say ‘There’s no way they lose to them.’

“This could go anywhere from 5-6 to 9-2. I think it can go either way. I think this game will be a huge factor in which way it goes.”

Not even the disastrous Ron Zook era resulted in a season with fewer than seven wins in Gainesville. Should this Florida season end as poorly as Dooley suggests, McElwain will have some serious explaining to do.

That type of talk could go away in a hurry Saturday night with a win but should the Gators fail to defend their homefield, this conversation will drag on for another week with a 30-year streak against Kentucky on the line in Lexington next weekend.