Current head football coach for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, Billy Napier, was announced to be the next head coach of the Florida Gators football team early Sunday afternoon. Napier will succeed Dan Mullen in Gainesville starting December 5th, 2021. Napier will be tasked with leading a talented team with all the tools to be competitive in the SEC.
Napier built an impressive coaching resume through two decades of coaching experience. He began his career as a graduate assistant at Clemson. He served in that role for the 2003-2004 seasons before heading to South Carolina State for one season to coach quarterbacks. Napier then ventured back to Clemson to accept a tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator position on Tommy Bowden's staff. Midway through his third season, Napier was appointed to quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator by interim head coach, Dabo Swinney. Napier would serve as the primary play caller and quaterbacks coach for a three-year-stint before being let go at the conclusion of the 2010 season.
Next Napier was contacted by Nick Saban to serve as an offensive analyst for the 2011 season. The Crimson Tide won the 2011 BCS National Championship and, as a result, Napier would follow fellow Alabama assistant, Jim McElwain, to Colorado State for the 2021 season for one year. After the 2012 season, Napier served one month at Florida State in 2013, four years back on Nick Saban's Alabama staff as the wide receivers coach from 2013-2016 and one season at Arizona State in 2017 as the Sun Devils offensive coordinator.
Lastly, Napier would leave Arizona State after just one year to head back east to be named the head football coach of the University of Louisiana at Lafayettte. At the helm of the Ragin' Cajuns' football team, Napier would go on to put up an impressive 39-12 overall record and 27-5 in-conference record over the course of four seasons from 2018-2021. His teams won four straight west division titles in the Sun Belt Conference, including the current 2021 season. Napier will coach his final game with Louisiana-Lafayette on December 4th, 2021 in the Sun Belt Conference Championship.
Napier will inherit a different challenge once he arrives in Gainesville. The University of Florida head football coaching job is one that requires a coach who understands the high standards the program holds and the rich tradition that follows.
Luckily, it appears University of Florida athletic director, Scott Stricklin, found exactly what the Florida Gators football program needs to uphold those requirements. Florida wanted to address the in-state recruiting, or lack thereof, under Dan Mullen. So, they hired a young coach who is known to be a tenacious recruiter. Florida sought to promote stability to their program. So, they hired a meticulous coach to add structure in all aspects of the program. Florida pursed a coach who can establish success on and off the field. So, they gave the reigns to a coach who models his on-field staff and off-field staff to enhance the program internally and externally. Stricklin checked all his boxes in his candidate search by landing Napier.
Napier will be given all the resources the University of Florida has to offer to fill a void of sustained success that has not been met in Gainesville since the Urban Meyer era. He will have all the tools at his disposal, including a new football training facility, to capitalize on signing in-state recruits and have them ready to compete for championships. It is safe to say university admin, current and former players, fans and even some recruits are excited to enter the Napier era.