2 Reasons Why Florida’s Expectations are Inflated

For better or worse, the Florida Gators will be one of the most talked about programs in college football this upcoming season. While much of the attention has been put on the difficult schedule, the attention also stems from Florida fielding one of the better teams that have had in the past five or so years. They were aggressive in getting additional recruits on the front seven and prioritized developing weapons to build on Graham Mertz’s career year in 2023.

Aside from seeing the outcomes of spring ball and the spring  Transfer Portal opening, the majority of the team is set. Despite these upgrades and changes, expectations should still be kept medial because Florida’s additional investment will take years for any possible return and Florida doesn’t have to make a bowl game this season.  

Why Florida’s Expectations Are Inflated 


The Additional Pool Money Won’t Make A Big Difference

Two weeks ago, Florida released their 2022-2023 fiscal report. Per Edgar Thompson, Florida’s recruiting budget has risen 45% for this upcoming season, approximately $1.25 million more than last season. This should not come as a surprise as other SEC programs such as Alabama, Ole Miss, and Texas made significant investments in facilities, NIL, and their coaching staffs over the past few seasons.

Another notable increase in the report is a $6.55 million pool for assistant coaches. Especially in an age where college head coaches and assistants are on the move, programs simply have to pay top assistant coaches more than ever. Whether it be a promotion to another Power 4 or taking a step back and becoming a head coach at a smaller Group of 5 program, it is encouraging to see Florida taking this action.

To an extent, Florida is behind the curve on this, yet they have some of the most resources in the SEC. Ideally, this pool should have happened at the onset of Napier’s hiring. On paper, this still seems like a huge victory, as Florida is on track to produce a top-ten 2024 recruiting class. However, there are multiple reasons to show skepticism about the numbers and Florida’s overall recruitment budget outlook.

For starters, schools such as Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas A&M’s operating budgets are significantly more than Florida’s. The gap between A&M and Florida is astounding; it’s almost double that of Florida’s. Granted, these numbers could be inflated due to miscellaneous costs such as transportation, food, and lodging. Florida football does not need to spend anywhere near what these top programs spend. At best, what these upgrades suggest is a willingness to be competitive in today’s landscape and most importantly recognizing Florida is behind when it comes to making these upgrades.

Florida Does Not Need to Make Bowl Appearance to Justify Keeping Billy Napier

This is going to turn a lot of heads, but Florida does not need to make it to a bowl game to justify keeping Napier for another season. That includes if he goes 5-7 instead of merely suggesting that a 6-6 non-bowl game appearance would suffice. Much of the Gainesville media has set the expectation that if Florida does not make a bowl game, then it will be a clean swipe and Florida will then want a flashy hire from another Power 4 program.

As referenced in a previous article, Napier reiterated from day one that he was going to run his program the way he wanted to run his program. More power to him. That comes at a cost, too. Glenn Schumann and Tim Banks are going to dissect Napier’s offenses from the past few seasons and know exactly how to attack them. First and foremost, those defenses are going to be creative in finding ways for Mertz to make more mistakes this year, which indicates finding avenues to get him out of the pocket and making contested throws.

Generally speaking, the expectation for Florida this season is approximately 5-7, which is perfectly reasonable especially since Florida finished 2023 with five straight losses. However, in a time when everything is expected to happen now, it is possible that even making it to a bowl game won’t secure Napier and his staff another year. What happens if the offensive line is still giving up sacks or the secondary continues to give up too many large passing plays? Our peer, Christian Alvear of LWOS College Football, did a great piece on how Florida’s defense was looking during spring practice.

Those were only some of the issues from last season, but how Florida will be assessed this year will depend on player development and (in particular) matchups where Florida has a relatively even match-up. Those games will make the difference between 4-8 versus 6-6. 

There Is Plenty of Work Left to Do

Unfortunately, there are going to be sectors of the Gainesville fanbase that will use the budgeting report as a justification for setting unrealistic year-three expectations.

On the field, Florida is bringing back many of their star players on the offensive side of the ball and the majority of the coaching changes were on the defensive side of the ball, bringing in Auburn’s defensive coordinator Ron Roberts and former Los Angeles Chargers assistant coach Will Harris.

To ensure long-term and ongoing success, there must be a level of patience. It is way easier said than done in this age of college football, but Florida has shown progress this offseason and Napier has shown a willingness to be flexible for the long-term stability of the program, which is refreshing compared to his previous stops.

Between the recruiting class, the report, and new coaches coming up, the program is set up for a bright future as long as the athletic department shows restraint in setting unrealistic expectations this season.

Main Image: Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

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