When Florida hired Billy Napier to be their next head football coach, they had bought into what the new head coach was envisioning for his next stop. Napier had a plan on how he thought building a football program should go, and the Florida administration was ready to provide the resources. During his contract negotiations, Napier let Scott Stricklin know that there was no need to rush this thing once he took the job since building the program would be a process.
When he took the podium on Sunday afternoon, Napier said he would be methodical in decision making and that he had a vision for the future of the program. The Florida program has also put their trust in him to make the right decisions and to earn a bunch of money along the way. Napier’s assistant pool will be around the $7.5 million range, which will give him the opportunity to lure quality assistants. He is also getting $5 million for other support staff members as well.
“This is a talent acquisition business,” Napier said about coaches and recruiting. “We’re going to work tirelessly in this area. Our first task will be hiring a quality coaching and support staff. I firmly believe that hiring talented people with integrity in an organization decides how far we go.”
But as we look at what Florida is willing to spend to catch up with other programs in the country, we should note that the Gator administration is finally waking up and realizing that changes cost money. This program has taken its time about getting on the same page as its rivals, despite the readily available resources, but Napier has been given the reins to change this thinking.
“We’re going to hire an army of people here. We’re going to create an infrastructure, not only in the personnel department, but also from an on-campus recruiting, creative media, name, image and likeness. We’ve got a great vision for the organization that we’re going to create here.
“We’re the University of Florida, right? We’ve got a lot to sell here, and I think the timing is right,” Napier said. “I think the administration’s willingness to invest in our vision and this organization that we’re going to create, you combine that with the resources that they’re providing to hire an exceptional staff, I think that the new facility is going to give us an advantage that maybe we haven’t had before here, and I think that our proximity to player is a direct advantage. So our ability to get these young men and their families on our campus, and then we do our job, right?”
Though Napier plans to put together a staff that should help the Gators take the next step in other areas, Napier was calling for a different tone when it came to recruiting. As he looks at it, there might not be much they can do about recruiting before the early signing period, and he’s ok with that. In a world where college football fans don’t want to hear the word “patience,” that’s exactly what Napier is preaching right now because he’s looking to build a foundation.
“Reality is you’re getting in the game and there’s like three minutes left in the fourth quarter. And I think the last thing we need to do here is make some mistakes. So we’ll probably — I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t sign many (different recruits) at all, to be honest with you. But there may be a few out there that are willing to jump in here in the last minute. We’re going to be very patient and I think we’ll position ourselves for after this signing day’s over, we’ll go see what’s left out there and do the very best job we can do.”
But to achieve his early goals, he’ll need assistant coaches and a solid recruiting staff to assemble the new approach to the process at Florida. Napier noted multiple times that his team would hire the biggest recruiting staff in the country, and I believe him. At Louisiana, Napier was all about the analytics and having a staff that could fill every void, especially with an army helping him put it all together.
All fans want to know who will be calling plays at Florida and how the staff will look after they are hired. Well, Napier put a few of those questions to bed during his press conference with answers that might surprise folks not familiar with how he operates.
“I’ll be calling the plays here. I think it gives us an advantage, in my opinion. We’re one of the only teams in the entire country to have two offensive line coaches. We’ll have an offensive line coach and an assistant offensive line coach.”
It’s an interesting approach, but again, this is why Florida hired him. They knew he was thinking outside the box, and they trust him to bring these types of ideas to fruition. This is an example of what made Napier attractive to Scott Stricklin in the first place. He’s going to do it his way, period.
Times are a-changing in Gainesville, and the changes should be welcome. The plan might sound different than what fans are used to, but it could pay off. There’s one thing that Billy Napier is relying on from the Florida fanbase though: a lively atmosphere.
“It’s important that everybody take ownership in their role, whatever that may be. You may be the equipment manager. You might be a cheerleader. You may run a local business. You might just be a Florida Gator fan in the barber shop. But I think it’s critical that we rally together, support each other as we work to establish a really high standard of excellence for this program both on and off the field.”