Four Power 5 programs entered the 2022 college football season with their head coaches on the proverbial hot seat — Nebraska, Auburn, Arizona State, and Georgia Tech. All 4 lost their jobs before the calendar reached November.

When coaches are on the hot seat even before the season begins, it doesn’t typically bode well.

Which makes Billy Napier’s situation at Florida all the more interesting.

The Gators were embarrassed by Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl, the quarterback situation turned into a disaster in a hurry, and patience around the program seems to be wearing thin. Is that just perception on the outside? Or is there something to the hot seat talk?

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, in setting the table for 2023’s coaching carousel this week, wasn’t ready to commit to putting Napier’s name firmly on the hot seat yet, but did write that he’s a person to keep an eye on.

From Rittenberg:

Napier would really need things to go wrong to not reach Year 3 in Gainesville. He inherited a messy situation. But Florida continues to fall behind Georgia, winner of the past two national championships. The Gators’ other main rival, Tennessee, is finally winning big again behind a high-flying offense that Florida fans would love. Napier is signed through 2027, and his success is tied to athletic director Scott Stricklin, who likely won’t be able to hire a third football coach at UF. But if the Gators struggle to reach bowl eligibility and can’t find a good path forward on offense, there will be some desire for a complete reset. Napier asked for a lot when he arrived and Florida came through for him. Soon, he must do the same.

Napier’s buyout is huge.

Florida would owe him $31.9 million if it dismissed him after the 2023 season, with 50% due in the first 30 days. If the Gators waited until 2024 to pull the plug, they’d still be on the hook for almost $26 million. And the numbers don’t change if Napier gets a new job in the aftermath.

That’s a major financial commitment to replace a guy who received a major financial commitment not that long ago.

But as Rittenberg points out, Georgia and Tennessee have surged ahead in the division, and South Carolina finished ahead of the Gators in the East standings for a second consecutive year. If things go wrong in 2023, all eyes will be on Gainesville.