- The University of Florida has hired Billy Napier as head football coach.
- Napier took over as the University of Louisiana’s head football coach in 2018 and had become one of the most sought after candidates in this season’s hiring cycle.
- Napier replaces former head coach Dan Mullen who was fired last week.
When Dan Mullen was fired as University of Florida head football coach last week ranked among the top candidates to replace him was University of Louisiana head coach Billy Napier. This was no surprise–over the past few seasons, Napier has been linked to every high profile coaching vacancy in college football. Last year, Napier turned down at least two SEC teams (South Carolina and Auburn) to remain at Louisiana. He couldn’t say no to the prospect of coaching an elite team like the Florida Gators. Earlier today, Napier was introduced as the 28th football coach in University of Florida history.
Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin talked about his new hire:
“I’ve followed and studied Billy Napier’s career with interest, and he became the primary target immediately after this position came open. We felt confident he would be an excellent leader for the Gators, which is why he was the only candidate I met with about the job.”
“Billy’s ability to bring highly-talented people together — players, coaches, and staff — along with his vision for having a strong, relationship-based culture is what made him such an attractive choice. Add in how detailed his plan is for player development, staffing and recruiting, along with a sustained desire to improve, and it’s easy to see why he’s been successful.”
“I’m so pleased that Billy, Ali, Annie, Sammy Nelson and Charlie are coming to Gainesville. It’s an exciting day for the Gators.”
Napier is planning to coach Louisiana when they play in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game when against Appalachian State on December 4. He will arrive in Gainesville, FL on December 5 and will be formally introduced as the Gators’ new coach at a press conference on campus.
“We are humbled and honored to accept this incredible opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Florida. Our team, staff and entire organization will work daily to establish a program with integrity and class that we all can be proud of. More importantly, we will build a culture that is centered around making an impact on our players: as people, as students, and on the field.”
“We embrace the expectations and are excited about the challenge ahead. We will assemble a special group of people and immediately get to work building a great program. A special thank you to President Dr. Fuchs and Athletic Director Scott Stricklin. We look forward to getting to Gainesville and starting this journey!””
Not sure why Napier used the collective term ‘we’. Maybe he’s talking about the entire Napier family since AD Stricklin name checked the entire brood. Then again, unless I’m mistaken the Napier patriarch will be the only one of the family actually involved in coaching.
In addition to Florida, Napier had also received interest from LSU and Virginia Tech. Napier is a former quarterback at Furman University who went into coaching after his playing career ended. He quickly found a role learning from some of the best in the business including Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Alabama’s Nick Saban. Louisiana was Napier’s first head coaching position and he put up impressive numbers at the school— he leaves the Ragin’ Cajuns with a 39-12 record along with four Sun Belt Conference West Division tiles and one conference championship.
Along the way, Napier developed a reputation as one of the best recruiters in college football and that is an area where Florida desperately needs help. The Gators are ranked 11th in the SEC heading into the early signing period, ahead of only Auburn, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The Gators finished fifth last season, sixth in 2020 and fifth in 2019. These rankings are especially problematic considering the wealth of football talent coming out of Florida. There was a time that the Gators weren’t constantly getting beat in recruiting by the other Florida schools but as evidenced by their overall SEC performance that is no longer the case. Clearly, recruiting will be the top priority for Napier once he starts his new job.