Remember a place a long time ago when Florida football had a coach who stuck around for longer than five or six years?
There have only been three in UF history that have lasted double-digit years – Bob Woodruff, Ray Graves and Steve Spurrier.
And Spurrier was always flirting with the NFL.
No, we expect a little uncertainty about the head football coaches at Florida because expectations had kerosene poured on them with three national titles and Spurrier’s amazing run of six SEC titles (he counts a seventh and we should, too).
Into this walks Billy Napier with pleas of positivity to a fanbase that just wants a little normal. Sheesh, the crazy around these parts has been a decade long.
We know the fans are demanding. It’s like that old cliché where a coach says, “Nobody can put more pressure on me than myself,” and the fans say, “Hold my beer.”
Earlier, I gave you five reasons why the Gator Nation should be patient with Napier. Now, five reasons why they probably won’t be.
They’ve seen it happen
The schedule is brutal and the culture needs a quick fix. But Florida fans have in-your-face examples of how it can be done.
It happens in a lot of places and we also know it doesn’t always happen. At Florida, the first-year phenomenon has been a mixed bag.
But they know this – Spurrier had the best record in the SEC in his first year, Jim McElwain won an SEC East despite losing his quarterback after six games, and Dan Mullen won 10 games and a Peach Bowl.
So, it’s not like it is impossible.
And, boy, the expectations just ramp up in that second season because of Spurrier (SEC title), Urban Meyer (national title) and even Will Muschamp (11 wins).
You have time, Billy Boy. But the clock has started and it runs a little fast down here in Gainesville.
They want off the rollercoaster
Ups and downs? They have had a few.
The last decade has been the kind of decade some schools would die for. There are trophy cases at Power 5 schools that aren’t as impressive as Florida’s would be just for the last 10 years.
But the crashes have been painful. And sometimes humiliating.
You want Gator fans to be patient? Do things the right way. Show some discipline in life and on the field. Be accountable in press conferences.
The bottom line is you have to win. But you can’t follow that up by losing.
Let’s face it, this program has been a puzzle without the corner pieces. Just when you think you have it figured out, something bad and embarrassing seems to happen.
I said it before – Florida fans want some normal. Of course, to them, normal is being on the national college football landscape for something other than players blocking each other or throwing a shoe.
The East looks tougher
As we know, Florida leads the league in rivalry games. This year, it’s less about rivalry and more about revenge.
The East did not fare well against the West, but we saw at the end of the season that Florida was the only team that faded (except Vandy, of course). Tennessee looks like it has found a coach who is going to give the Vols a chance to win every game. Shane Beamer has momentum pointed in the right direction at South Carolina. Eli Drinkwitz is recruiting his rear off at Missouri.
Kentucky just finished a 10-win season. And there is the Bulldog in the room.
The point is that these are all personal games because they are played every year. The sting is often salted with mock chomps. And, you know, you have to win these games to go to Atlanta.
There is an arrogance among the Florida faithful that is well-deserved. The old line about “Florida has the arrogance of Alabama and the tradition of Wake Forest” was buried in a sea of championships under Spurrier and Meyer.
And Billy Donovan. That run for UF was one that may bever be duplicated, two NCs in football and two in basketball in three years. Get out of here.
But it has left Florida fans wanting to have that taste in their mouths again.
And they cannot understand why not? Why can’t it always be like that?
It’s Florida. Top-5 school. The Swamp. The statues. The orange and blue.
Why can’t you win right away with everything Florida offers?
It’s a good question.
It may be asked again in September.
Why start now?
This is a tough fan base. It expects excellence. It does not believe in patience.
The older fans waited forever for success. Remember when the Florida motto was “Wait ‘Til Next Year?”
The middle group of fans want to go back to the days of Spurrier. The next group wants to go back to the days of Tebow. The latest group – current students included – is probably wondering what it would be like to be part of something special.
The point is that Florida fans have always been a little extreme in their passion. How many quarterbacks have been booed at Florida Field? I mean, Florida quarterbacks. David Bowden, Kyle Morris, Chris Leak, Emory Jones. The complete list is longer.
It’s a tough crowd.
But they like their new coach.
He hasn’t lost a game yet.