When Billy Napier was hired on to lead Florida football, most fans were willing to give Napier a reasonable margin of error starting out. Recruiting under Dan Mullen wasn't elite and the overall state of the team needed an overhaul.
Through two seasons, Napier is 11-14 and even the more patient of fans are starting to look up things like "How much is Billy Napier's buyout?"
Coaches like Kalen DeBoer are why fans lack patience.
Florida Football: If he can do it...
The Washington Huskies knocked off Texas last night in the Sugar Bowl and advanced to the national title game against Michigan. Like Florida, Washington fired their coach in 2021 and went looking for a new one. But unlike Florida, one could argue that the Huskies were in far worse shape when DeBoer was hired November 29, 2021.
The Huskies fired then-coach Jimmy Lake after less than two seasons on the job shortly after allegations emerged of him striking a player. If you think Florida's 6-7 campaign in 2021 was bad, the Huskies were 4-8 in 2021. If you think Florida's recruiting class of 2022 was bad, ranked 18th in the 247 Sports Composite, the Huskies brought in just nine recruits and were ranked 95th that year. That was on the heels of the 2021 class being ranked 30th.
Yet since arriving, DeBoer went 11-2 in 2022 and is 14-0 in 2023 with a shot at winning the national championship next week.
"But Ben, Washington has played a far easier schedule."
And even if you don't think Washington would have gone 14-0 in the SEC, there is still more than one standard deviation between playing in the national title game and going 5-7.
DeBoer is emblematic of all five head coaches that won a Power Five conference title this year. All five coaches took over for a head coach that was fired in four years or less at their respective school:
- DeBoer took over for Lake, fired in less than two years
- Steve Sarkisian took over for Tom Herman at Texas, who was fired after four years
- Nick Saban took over for Mike Shula at Alabama, who was fired after four years
- Jim Harbaugh took over for Brady Hoke at Michigan, who was fired after four years
- Mike Norvell took over for Willie Taggart at FSU, who was fired in less than two years
All five of those new coaches won at least 10 games in a single season within three years of taking over, which is why it isn't unfair to expect more from Florida in 2024.
Napier wants to build a solid foundation for Florida and in theory that does take time. But there are far too many anecdotal examples out there to sit by idly and believe Florida has to wait it out another season if 2024 doesn't trend upwards for the Gators.