Florida has found the next coach to lead its football program.
The Gators announced Louisiana coach Billy Napier as the team’s next coach.
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Gator Nation, let’s welcome Head Coach Billy Napier to The Swamp! #GoGators pic.twitter.com/Je7Z5tK1gI
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) November 28, 2021
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Napier, a former assistant under such coaches as Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, among others, will make the leap to the Power 5 for the first time in his coaching career.
The change comes after Florida elected to move on from Dan Mullen, who was fired after a 24-23 loss to Missouri. It was the latest of a stretch run of misery for the Gators, which saw them lose three straight to LSU, No. 1 Georgia and South Carolina before surviving FCS opponent Samford, 70-52.
Mullen went 34-15 in four seasons at Florida, starting with seasons of 10-3 and 11-2 records in 2018 and ’19, respectively. The Gators were a thrown shoe away from competing with Alabama in the 2020 SEC championship game for a College Football Playoff berth as well; following that incident, the Gators went 5-9 under Mullen.
That’s the challenge facing Napier in Gainesville. With that, Sporting News breaks down everything you need to know about the Gators’ next coach:
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Billy Napier coaching history
Napier has only four years of head coaching experience, but has done a good job building the Louisiana football program into a perennial Sun Belt contender. He took over the Ragin’ Cajuns program in 2018, leading the team to a Sun Belt West division title and 7-7 record in his first season. The team had suffered three straight losing seasons prior to Napier’s first season in Lafayette, La.
Following that, Napier led the program to an 11-3 record and berth in the 2019 Sun Belt championship game, losing 45-38 to App State. In 2020, he led the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 10-1 record and another West division title, but couldn’t play Coastal Carolina in the conference title game due to COVID-19. Louisiana is 11-1 through 12 games in the 2021 season and set to face off against App State in the conference title game on Saturday.
Year Record Final rank (AP) Bowl outcome
2018 7-7 N/A Cure Bowl (loss)
2019 11-3 N/A LendingTree Bowl (win)
2020 10-1 15 First Responder Bowl (win)
2021 11-1 TBD TBD
Prior to taking over at Louisiana, Napier served as an assistant under some of college football’s top coaches. That includes a stint as Swinney’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Clemson from 2009-10 (at 29 years old, he was the youngest offensive coordinator in the Power 5); an analyst for Saban at Alabama in 2011; tight ends coach for Fisher’s national champion Florida State team in 2013; and Saban’s receivers coach from 2013-16 (the Crimson Tide made the playoff every year from 2014-16 and won the title in 2015).
Napier’s final stop before taking over at Louisiana was as Arizona State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2017.
Billy Napier offensive scheme
According to a 2018 feature from SI’s Dellenger, Napier installed “an abridged version of Alabama’s elaborate system, a one-back spread offense with pro alignments that can operate at varying speeds.”
“The offense’s run game is mostly derived from longtime Alabama assistant Joe Pendry, and its play-action passing game comes from Lane Kiffin’s offense. The scheme includes some Air Raid from his stint in 2017 under former Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham, and he borrowed Jim McElwain’s tactics for instructing and teaching passers. …”
Napier, who also coaches the quarterbacks, has seen tremendous offensive success leading the Ragin’ Cajuns since 2018. That includes one 3,000-yard passer and two 1,000-yard rushers. Below is how Napier’s offense has stacked up nationally since 2018:
Year Total offense Passing offense Rushing offense Scoring offense
2018 424.3 YPG 205.6 YPG 218.7 YPG 31.9 PPG
2019 494.1 YPG 236.7 YPG 257.4 YPG 37.9 PPG
2020 421.5 YPG 208.5 YPG 213.0 YPG 33.6 PPG
2021 374.8 YPG 196.3 YPG 178.5 YPG 31.3 PPG
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Billy Napier contract details
The details of Napier’s Florida contract aren’t immediately known. That said, the Gators will pay Mullen his full $12 million buyout. Napier signed a contract with Louisiana before the 2021 season, one that pays him $2 million per year over five years. It includes a $3 million buyout.