One notable college football writer has posted his Florida prediction for the 2023 season, and it doesn’t look good for the Gators. Stewart Mandel of The Athletic not only believes the program will see its worst season in more than four decades, but that the school will fire its head coach just two seasons in.
The bold prediction is now going viral online.
Mandel gave his best and worst SEC expectations for the upcoming year, taking a swing on championship picks, potential upset bids, and overall records.
The writer foresees a rematch of the 2022 SEC title game between Georgia and LSU, believing that the Bulldogs will repeat as conference champs come season’s end. He also lists other top contenders in the league, which include Tennessee and Alabama, though he sees the Crimson Tide losing three games in the regular season.
As for a potential spoiler in-conference, he picked South Carolina, who’s won 15 games over the last two years, but has been wildly inconsistent under Shane Beamer.
He also pinpointed a few wildcards in Texas A&M and Auburn before getting down to his pick for worst team in the SEC. And no, it’s not Vanderbilt.
Instead, he keyed in on a historic power in the league, at least since the days of Steve Spurrier. Yes, the Florida Gators were Mandel’s choice for cellar dweller, with his prediction seeing the program winning just three games. That includes a 1-7 mark in SEC play, good for the bottom spot.
Stewart Mandel makes bold Florida prediction.
Mandel later expanded on what he believes will be a disastrous season for the Gators. He said the school will ultimately fire head coach Billy Napier. Here’s more.
Big-brand SEC programs don’t let coaches have two bad seasons, and Napier, 6-7 in his first one, has the makings of a last-place team this fall. That former Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz is his best option at that position does not bode well. If he really goes 3-9, the boosters will find $32 million to pull the plug.
Napier’s first season in Gainesville was up and down, and it did include a loss to Vandy, but the Gators looked competitive for the majority of the year. Outside of a three-score loss to national champion Georgia, Florida’s remaining five regular season losses each came by 10 points or less.
That included games against SEC West champ LSU, Orange Bowl champ Tennessee, and instate rival FSU. Heck, they even knocked off a Top 10 ranked Utah team in the season opener, who later went on to win the PAC-12.
Mandel apparently didn’t see much promise in the close defeats, and he expects a much worse outcome in 2023.
If the Gators do have one thing working against them, it’s the schedule. Florida was dealt an absolutely brutal slate, facing five teams ranked in the preseason AP Poll Top 15.
That’s led Vegas to peg the Gators’ season win total at 5.5 games.
Stewart Mandel sees Florida falling well short of that total based on that prediction.