Florida Officially Hires Billy Napier As New Head Coach To Lead The Gators

The Florida coaching search has been going on for less than a week, but on Sunday they finally nailed down their guy. The Florida football program officially announced the hire on Sunday afternoon,  The Gators were gauging interest in the coach for a few weeks now, but it finally came together over the weekend.

Napier has compiled a 39–12 career record at Louisiana heading into the Sun Belt title game next Saturday. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 11–1 this year and defeated UL-Monroe on Saturday.

Florida AD Scott Stricklin knew who he wanted from the start and patiently waited for the Louisiana coach to make a decision. Billy Napier released a statement through Florida about being named the new head coach for the Gators. 

“We are humbled and honored to accept this incredible opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Florida,” Napier said. “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!”

Napier took over the ULL program that was coming off a 5-7 season in 2017 and has had numerous successful season since. So, with Florida looking for a program builder and someone who can build a sustainable program, they’ve hired the guy who they think can have sustained success.

Napier has had previous stops at Clemson and Alabama, so success if something he is used to. He’s also known as a fiery recruiter, who will now be able to tap into his Louisiana connections and bring in top-level talent from across the southeast. Given the lack of recruiting with the previous staff, Napier will be a breath of fresh air for the Gators program. He is the CEO who runs the building and will not hesitate passing off duties to the ones he trust.

Florida AD Scott Stricklin was ver meticulous with this coaching search and mentioned that h’es been studying Napier for a while now. 

“I’ve followed and studied Billy Napier’s career with interest, and he became the primary target immediately after this position came open,” Stricklin said. “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.”

In his first season with Louisiana, they went 7-7 and reached the Sun Belt title game and a bowl game. Louisiana went 11-3 in 2019, 10-1 last season and has a 11-1 record this season. He has coached at Florida State, Arizona State, Alabama and Clemson. Napier has been known to be aggressive in his play calling and will likely inherit QB Anthony Richardson at Florida, who has the potential to be special.

Napier is walking into a football program that has been successful in recent years, but never turned that into a title. The Gators were a program that has always been on the brink of reply good, but haven’t been able to take that next step. The downfall for Dan Mullen, besides recruiting, was losing games the Gators had no reason to drop. Mullen could never get over the hump and it all went downhill for them this season after the Kentucky loss.

Now, Billy Napier has the opportunity to bring in his own crew, have a resourceful recruiting budget and department, while also being able to delegate the defense and potentially run the offense.

Florida is taking a bit of a risk with Napier, but they feel he’s done enough to prove himself worthy of the job. He has turned down other SEC jobs in the past, so him choosing the Gators must mean he sees potential in the Florida Athletic Department.

Either way, Florida got its guy, again. Now, we will see if it works this time.

Follow along on Twitter: @TreyWallace_

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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