I genuinely don't know what to expect from Florida in this 2015 season, the first of Jim McElwain's hopefully long and wildly successful career with the Gators. Transitional years are usually pretty difficult all over college football, and they've been up-and-down seasons at Florida even for the best coaches the school has had.
Will Muschamp's first year ended with the Gators going 7-6, and also featured Muschamp calling his team "soft" after a loss to Florida State. Urban Meyer's first year was a 9-3 campaign with an unbeaten record at home — Florida wouldn't lose at home under Meyer until 2007 &mdsah; but also featured a 31-3 beatdown at the hands of Alabama. Ron Zook's first year produced an 8-5 mark, but was very much an up-and-down ride: Florida was thumped by Miami in Zook's second game, and torched by LSU at home later in the year, but rallied to win four straight games and hand Georgia its only loss of the season ... before losing to FSU and Michigan to close out the year. And Steve Spurrier's first year, way back in 1990, was a 9-2 triumph — with a 45-3 loss to Tennessee, still the worst in the history of the rivalry, and a 45-30 loss to FSU.
No coach in the history of Florida football has ever won 10 games in his first year on the job, mind you, so those Spurrier and Meyer years are about as good as it gets.
No one's expecting McElwain to take the spine of the great Muschamp defenses and instantly add a fantastic offense to back it up, of course; that is an expectation Florida fans have, yes, but not necessarily an immediate one. And I don't think anyone's expecting SEC and national title contention from jump street, either.
But there are plots for this season that will be greeted with rave reviews, and plots that will cue tomato-tossing. Which are which, for you? Does Florida just need to have a winning season? Must it maintain its winning streaks over Tennessee and Kentucky? Would a losing record in SEC play make this year unsuccessful? Do the Gators need to spring an upset over a big-name team? Does it all depend on how Florida plays, and how well it can sell itself to recruits, rather than record?
The Friday Forum — which will run Fridays until the season formally kicks off — wants you to answer this question: What will make Florida's 2015 season a success?