Is Billy Napier on his way to being fired in Gainesville as head coach of the Florida Gators? That is one of the larger questions heading into the 2024 college football season.
While it is only speculation, after two season in Gainesville, Napier is a combined 11-14 going 6-7 in his first season and 5-7 in his second, and not even making a bowl game. For a university with much higher expectations and a schedule that is ranked amongst the toughest in the country heading into 2024, the grass is not looking all that green for Napier.
On top of this, recruiting services had the Gators’ recruiting class heading into early signing day ranked in the top five in many cases. After signing day, almost all had them ranked from 16th to 20th. 247 Sports specifically has the Gators ranked 16th in the country, as did On3.
While this may not seem horrible, this also ranked the Gators as the 9th best recruiting class in the SEC. And this is a far cry from the expectations in for the program. Should the Gators get off to a rough start, this will heat up Napier’s seat even more as one of the coaches on the hot seat heading into the 2024 season according to my article.
If presumably Napier is let go after or during the 2024 season as head coach of the Gators, the question will become who will replace him at a program with national championship level expectations.
Here are my thoughts on potential coaches to replace Billy Napier as head coach of the Florida Gators for the 2025 season:
Who will be the Florida Gators head coach in 2025?
Urban Meyer - If you know anything about the history of the Florida Gators and Urban Meyer, this one is polarizing to say the least. One thing is for certain though that Meyer did win a national championship at the University of Florida and had a Heisman trophy winning quarterback in Tim Tebow with Cam Newton waiting in the wings at one point. Winning was paramount when Meyer was king of the swamp, and Gator fans have been starved for it since he left compiling four losing seasons since, including the last three years.
The last coach to win a national championship in Gainesville before Meyer was former Gators Heisman trophy quarterback and head coach Steve Spurrier. Spurrier had a record of 122-27-1 while coach of the Gators for a winning percentage of 82%. Meyer nearly paralleled this with a winning percentage of 81%. So while it is polarizing because of Meyer’s known lack of player discipline at Florida and tumultuous exit, winning will always be paramount. So do not be too surprised if Meyer end up back in the swamp.
Lane Kiffin - The former Nick Saban assistant, Lane Kiffin has roots in Florida back to his days at Florida Atlantic University where he coached the Owls to two 11-win seasons in his three years at the school. Granted FAU is in south Florida more towards the coast than the University of Florida which sits more inland and in the north central part of the state, but it is still Florida, and the Gators can put up a good bit of money if they want the Ole Miss coach back in the state.
Alex Golesh - This name may not be familiar to many, but Golesh is the first year head coach for the USF Bulls in Tampa, Florida. Golesh is an offensive-minded coach who has spent time at seven different power five programs during his time as an assistant coach. Golesh’s most recent stop was as offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee under head coach Josh Heupel for two seasons before taking his first head coaching gig with the Bulls.
During his first season with the Bulls, Golesh went 7-6. His most well-known game however in year one would undoubtedly be when he had his Bulls tied with the perennial power Alabama Crimson Tide 3-3 at halftime and only lost the game 17-3. The Bulls are a team that had a combined eight wins from 2018-2022 before Golesh arrived. So Golesh nearly matching that combined five-year total in one year with seven is quite impressive. Depending on how the Bulls do in 2024, watch for this name to emerge not only at Florida, but across the national landscape.
Lincoln Riley, James Franklin and others are names that may be heard as well, but some of the most likely in my opinion are above.
One thing is for certain that if Napier loses his season-opener the in-state rival Miami Hurricanes, expect the seat to get hot early in Gainesville and these names to be even more talked about as the season progresses.