Florida hires Louisiana’s Billy Napier as coach: Gators sweep away one of the most requested names


Florida announced Sunday that Louisiana’s Billy Napier will be the next coach in the program. Napier was the lead contender for the job, as Florida moved quickly to replace Dan Mullen, who was fired on Nov. 21 following a 24-23 overtime loss to Missouri.

“We are touched and honored to accept this incredible opportunity to be the University of Florida Head Football Coach,” said Napier. “Our team, staff and entire organization will work daily to establish a program with integrity and class that we can all be proud of. Most importantly, we will build a culture focused on impact on our players; as people, as students and in the field. “

Napier has established himself as one of the most promising rising stars in the coaching industry. He is leading the Ragin ‘Cajuns to their best run in the history of the program. Louisiana has enjoyed three straight double-digit winning seasons, including an 11-1 effort in 2021 that will culminate in a Sun Belt Championship Game appearance against Appalachian State. Napier’s first season in Louisiana marked the Sun Belt’s first year of the title game, and the Ragin ‘Cajuns advanced to all four championship opportunities.

As a branch of Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney’s drive shafts, Napier has been mentioned in SEC coaching circles for several years, including last year when Auburn was in the market after firing Gus Malzahn. . It has been reported that Napier has been offered a handful of Power Five jobs over the past two offseason, all of which he turned down while patiently waiting for the right opportunity.

“I have followed and studied Billy Napier’s career with interest, and he became the primary target immediately upon opening this position,” said athletic director Scott Stricklin. “We believed he would be a great leader for the Gators, which is why he was the only candidate I met about the job. Billy’s ability to bring together very talented people – players, coaches and staff – as well as his vision for having a strong relationship-based culture is what made him such an attractive choice. Add how detailed his plan is for player development, staffing and recruiting, as well as ‘a sustained desire to improve, and it’s easy to see why he was successful. “

Florida beat Florida State 24-21 in Week 13 to finish 6-6 and become bowl eligible.

What are the main takeaways from renting in Florida? Let’s take a look …

Napier corrects the problem

Yes, it’s a replica of “Office Space”, but it’s appropriate here when it comes to the Gators. Napier’s 39-12 record as a head coach speaks for itself, but his recruiting connections through his stints as an assistant in Alabama, Clemson and Florida State make him the perfect candidate for the Florida. One of Mullen’s biggest criticisms was that he failed to attract players capable of competing against the top teams in the SEC. It’s all about depth in the nation’s toughest football conference, and Florida just doesn’t have it after four of Mullen’s signing classes.

The current recruiting class is ranked 11th in the SEC ahead of the first signing period, ahead of only Auburn, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The Gators were fifth last season, sixth in 2020 and fifth in 2019. That ranking might suit a team like Mississippi State or South Carolina, but it’s Florida. It is a hotbed of recruiting. It is the Mecca of high school football talent.

Florida doesn’t recruit well in the state either. The top-ranked 2022 prospect engaged in the program is ranked 20th in the state. He was Jason Marshall ninth in the 2021 class, Kaiir Elam seventh in 2020 and Jacob Copeland 14th in 2019.

Recruiting will be the first thing Napier tackles once he arrives in Gainesville.

Florida wasted no time

The coaching carousel officially started last Sunday for the Gators, and they wasted no time in getting their guy. Stricklin had a plan, executed it, and gave no other program time to find its way into the discussion. This is exactly why it makes sense for ADs to cut the cord when they know a change is going to be made rather than missing out on a lost season’s time before officially making a change.

Take last night, for example. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was asked about the LSU vacancy following his Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma. He immediately shot him like any coach can in such a situation.

It came as a shock to residents of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who thought they had their man, according to Sports Illustrated. How many other programs have had the same impression? Quite a few, most likely. Simply put, Riley’s decision to stay in Oklahoma opened the door for LSU to turn its head west on I-10 and approach Napier. Stricklin’s decision to act as quickly as possible prevented this from happening and eliminated the possibility of other curved balls from the practice carousel changing the scenery.

Organizational skills are essential

Napier is another of Saban’s followers, who has had a negative connotation over the past decade and more. Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher became Saban’s first former assistant to beat Saban when the Aggies won 41-28 on Oct. 9, breaking a 24-game losing streak the former assistants had against their mentor.

It’s an overrated statistic, however. Saban has the best players, the best coaches and the best support staff in the country, and it’s really hard for a coach to beat the Crimson Tide, no matter what training tree they come from.

Napier worked with Saban as a wide receivers coach from 2013 to 2016, during which time he saw Saban swallow his pride and open his offense with the hiring of Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator heading into the 2014 season. experience is invaluable as Napier saw the best coach ever evolve over time without kicking or screaming, which every coach must do to maintain success over a long period of time.


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