One week after firing Dan Mullen, the Florida Gators have their next head coach. Scott Stricklin moved quickly, hiring Billy Napier away from Louisiana. The news broke on Sunday morning, and Florida made it official this afternoon.
Mullen was fired after his team completely fell apart down the stretch. Florida did rebound to beat Florida State on Saturday, earning bowl eligibility at 6-6.
Napier is a former Clemson assistant, who also served at Alabama as an analyst and receivers coach. He was with Nick Saban from 2013-2016, before landing at Louisiana with the Rajun’ Cajuns. Napier went 7-7 in year one, then improved to an 11-3 mark. From there he’s gone 10-1 and 11-1, jumping to the top of everyone’s coaching candidate lists.
“We are humbled and honored to accept this incredible opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Florida,” Napier said in a release. “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.”
Napier now takes over one of the premier jobs in all of college football, tasked with rebuilding a culture that clearly deteriorated under Dan Mullen. He’ll also have to compete more than Mullen did on the recruiting trail, with Kirby Smart’s Georgia program running away with the SEC East in terms of talent.
He’s served under both Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban. As we know, that doesn’t guarantee any sort of success. But his record with Louisiana speaks for itself, and he’s been very patient to find this opportunity. Napier has been connected to both the Mississippi State and Auburn jobs in the past, but waited to find the right destination.
Now he dives head first into the SEC as he tries to bring the Gators back to life.