Florida makes it official – the Billy Ball era has begun

Nov 28, 2021 | 0 comments

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Following reports on Sunday, the University of Florida officially has named Louisiana head coach Billy Napier as its head football coach. Napier is Florida’s fourth head coach since Urban Meyer resigned at the end of the 2010 season and the 28th in program history.

“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.

The announcement comes exactly a week after Florida fired previous head coach Dan Mullen, who went 34-15 in four years.

Florida’s top choice for the job, Napier, 42, has reportedly turned down head coaching offers in the past, including Auburn, South Carolina, Baylor, and Mississippi State.

Louisiana was Napier’s first head coaching job.

Napier first arrived at Louisiana in 2018 and completely turned around the struggling program. In four seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Napier was 39-12 overall with a 27-5 record in the Sun Belt, four-straight Western Division championships, two bowl wins, and a Sun Belt Championship.

He has also had three-straight 10+-win seasons. Louisiana had never had a 10-win season in their history before his arrival.

This season, the Napier-led Ragin’ Cajuns (11-1, 8-0 Sun Belt) will play Appalachian State (10-2, 7-1 Sun Belt) for the Sun Belt championship on Dec. 4. Napier will coach the championship game before arriving in Gainesville on Sunday, Dec. 5. His introductory press conference will be held that day.

Florida will be Napier’s first Power 5 head coaching job.

“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,” Napier said. “A special thank you to President Dr. Fuchs and Athletic Director Scott Stricklin. We look forward to getting to Gainesville and starting this journey!”

Before taking the Louisiana job in December of 2017, Napier made multiple stops at power-five programs as a position coach and an offensive coordinator.

In 2006, Napier became the Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Clemson under Tommy Bowden. He would remain in that role until 2009, when he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach under Dabo Swinney. Under Napier, Clemson saw a resurgence of offense with a first-place finish in the ACC Atlantic Division and a then-school record of 436 total points scored. After a 6-7 record and a fall in offensive output, Swinney fired Napier at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

After winning a national championship with Alabama in 2011 as an analyst, Napier followed then-Alabama offensive coordinator and former Gators’ head coach Jim McElwain to Colorado State for the 2012 season.

Arguably Napier’s most famous stop was in Tuscaloosa, where he was the Wide Receivers Coach for Nick Saban from 2013-2016. At Alabama, Napier won one national championship, three SEC titles and made three playoff appearances. In 2016 season, Napier returned to the offensive coordinator position under Todd Graham at Arizona State.

Athletic Director Scott Stricklin started the search immediately after firing Dan Mullen on Nov. 21 and expressed the need to find a coach who can live up to the expectations.

“Obviously we want somebody who can come in here and they share our high expectations for sustained success and can do so at a place with great resources like the University of Florida,” Stricklin said last week.

With Napier, Stricklin believes he shares that sentiment.

“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,” Stricklin said in a statement on Nov. 28. “ 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.”

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Tags: Sport

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