Florida hires LA coach-Lafayette Napier to replace Mullen



Florida hired Louisiana-Lafayette’s Billy Napier on Sunday to be the Gators’ next football coach.

The move ends a process that quickly made Florida its top target a week after it fired Dan Mullen.

42-year-old Napier will stay at the Ragin Cajuns (11-1) this week as they prepare to host Appalachian Bang (10-2) in their Sun Belt Conference championship game on Saturday. He’s 39-12 in four seasons at Lafayette, including 32-5 in the last three years.

“We are humbled and honored to accept this incredible opportunity to become the head coach of the football team at the University of Florida,” Napier said in a statement. “Our team, employees and entire organization will work every day to establish a program of integrity and class that we can all be proud of.

“We embrace expectations and are excited about the challenge ahead.”

Florida has scheduled an introductory press conference with Napier for December 5.

Mullen was fired last Sunday after Florida’s fourth loss in five games. He was released less than a year after leading the Gators to the third straight in six New Year’s bowls.

Mullen’s amazingly quick demise ended a tumultuous two seasons that included mounting losses, numerous public relations blunders and NCAA sanctions.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin quickly moved on to land Napier, a former receiver coach at Alabama under Nick Saban and a former offensive coordinator at Clemson and Arizona State.

“We feel confident that he will be an outstanding leader for Gator, which is why he is the only candidate I have met for the job,” Stricklin said in a statement.

Napier is one of the rising stars and hottest names in college football in recent years. He has mixed participation for current open facilities at Virginia Tech and TCU.

He also turned down Mississippi State after the 2019 season and left for South Carolina and Auburn after the 2020 season. His name is also connected to other Southeast Conference openings, including Mississippi and Missouri.

He’s taking over a Florida program that’s been in disarray for over a year but nearly opening an $85 million soccer facility that could help the team catch up in recruiting. And that could help Gator close the gap on superpowers like Georgia and Alabama.

Florida have lost nine of their last 11 games against teams from the Football Bowl Division before beating rivals Florida State on Saturday. A 24-21 win at Swamp makes Florida (6-6) eligible.

Stricklin certainly hopes Napier will help Florida continue the offensive success they enjoyed for most of Mullen’s four seasons, while providing a better culture and more accountability on and off the field. grass.

Napier is known for his detailed organizational skills, which he adopted during his time with Saban. Napier’s approach catapulted Ragin’ Cajuns to unprecedented success.

Louisiana had not been ranked since 1943 until the arrival of Napier. The team had never won 10 games until Napier arrived, and now he’s done it for three consecutive seasons. He beat Iowa State in the opening game of the 2020 season.

Napier, a native of Cookeville, Tennessee, is a former Furman quarterback in South Carolina. His coaching career took a huge leap when coaching players at Alabama (2013-16), where he worked with stars Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley.

He completed that job as the Arizona State offensive coordinator in 2017 under Todd Graham, who averaged the Reds 31.8 points before ULL hired Napier.

Napier’s contract calls for a $3 million buyout to pay Louisiana-Lafayette. Florida hires LA coach-Lafayette Napier to replace Mullen

Aila Slisco

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