Coach Dan Mullen certainly brought UF back to national relevance during his three years at Gainesville. He inherited a program that ran 4-7 in 2017, the second season in five years after the Gators hadn’t had one since 1979.
Mullen’s squad have appeared in three consecutive New Year’s Six Bowls (they won the first two) and have two top 10 finishes.
But where does this work stack up against the entire college football landscape? ESPN has an answer.
All 130 FBS teams were divided into different levels. The top tier, which includes Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, the state of Ohio and Oklahoma, is considered the “championship favorite”.
Florida lands just below in Tier 2, along with North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, and Texas A&M. That tier is considered a “knock on the door”. Here is the description of the stage.
If talent and opportunity are the ultimate umpires to win a national championship, those teams meet the criteria, but they also have a few more important question marks than those in Tier 1. All have at least three top 20 recruiting classes over the past four seasons. All of them have had at least one New Years Six appearance in the past two years. All but Penn State and Oregon won at least seven games in 2020 (though the Ducks won the Pac-12 and the Nittany Lions ended a four-game winning streak).
Florida has had more consistent success than perhaps any other team in the league than Notre Dame, but as ESPN points out later in this article, the Gators have quarterback issues and need to replace a litany of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball.