Why Florida Gators Can’t Return To Elite Status
By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The Florida Gators football team began their second spring practice under head coach Billy Napier last week.
With new players and coaching staff, there are many storylines and position battles to watch this spring.
The Gators have big questions in a lot of position groups entering spring practice. Who will replace Anthony Richardson at QB is a huge question mark.
Florida lost all three starters from 2022 at linebacker, who steps up there? Questions abound across the board with this program.
Here is the main question in my mind and it is one that Florida does not have a great track record in regards to. Will Florida be patient and allow Billy Napier to build this program the right way?
Florida was one of the founding members of the SEC in 1933. It took Florida 58 years for them to win their first SEC Football Championship in 1991. Florida has won 8 SEC Football Championships overall and none since 2008.
It has been 15 years since Florida has won anything of significance in football. In the same time frame Florida has had 5 head football coaches. Doing the math Florida hires and fires head football coaches every three years.
Florida is never going to be successful again until they give a coach a chance to build a program.
Napier went 40-12 at Louisiana in four years prior to taking the Florida job, which included a 7-7 season in year one.
Florida is a huge step up from the Sun Belt Conference, and in many ways Florida was in much worse shape than Louisiana was when Napier took over.
Napier had to improve his overall talent at UL which he did, but that isn’t the case at Florida.
Florida always has elite talent in football. Did you watch Anthony Richardson at the NFL Combine put up the best performance for a QB ever?
Talent is not and never has been an issue at The University of Florida. Vince Dooley used to say that Florida was the most talented team in the SEC annually when he coached at UGA from 1964-1988. Dooley’s teams went 17-7-1 against more talented UF football teams during his tenure.
Steve Spurrier was hired in 1990 and he came in with his innovative offensive mind and made Florida the best football program in the SEC while going 122-27-1 in a 12-year run that is the best in school history.
During that window Florida won 6 SEC Championships and a national title in 1996.
Urban Meyer came in and recruited Tim Tebow and won national titles in 2006 and 2008.
My point is that Florida’s entire football history is compressed into a 19-year window from 1990-2008. Other than that Florida football has been nothing special.
Billy Napier inherited a culture problem at UF that he has been working to improve since he walked on campus.
SEC coaches privately tell reporters that Florida has consistently been one of the most undisciplined teams in the conference over the past 5 seasons.
I believe Napier is the right man for the job in Gainesville. He just had a top 15 recruiting class and hit the transfer portal hard to address position groups like LB and QB.
Florida just opened an $85 million dollar football facility last summer that is state of the art.
The money, talent, and facilities are in place for Billy Napier to get UF back among the elite programs in the country.
Napier needs time to fix the culture and build the type of program that all associated with the University of Florida will be proud of. Billy Napier is the right man for the job at UF.
Will Florida give him the time needed to accomplish? Back-to-back 6-7 seasons while UGA is winning back-to-back National Championships makes the Gator nation impatient.
They must realize that it took Kirby 6 years to build Georgia into that status. Florida will not be elite anytime soon unless they stop firing head football coaches every 3 years.