Sports

Florida football hires tough but right choice in Billy Napier


If there is one thing I have learned from athletic directors during my many years on the planet, it is that you hire the opposite of what you fired.

If you have a defensive coach, you need to go get an offensive coach. And vice versa.

Sometimes you are limited by what is available. And sometimes coaches turn you down.

But then you talk in the presser about how this is the perfect guy for the job and he was your first choice even though he was the first of seven to be offered the job.

So, here is what Florida did with Billy Napier.

  1. They went out and got a head coach who not only understands recruiting, he has organized a much better recruiting room at Louisiana than Dan Mullen did at Florida. Napier copied the Nick Saban philosophy to the letter. Saban proteges don’t always work, but Florida got a guy who took the Saban plan to heart (as, of course, did Georgia with Kirby Smart). You want a winner, you want a guy who can bring fun back. But the main thing in Florida’s case is to pair the new football facility with a guy who could really recruit to it.
  2. They went out and hired a guy that isn’t full of ego and arrogance. Don’t get me wrong. Ego and arrogance can work. But it almost always blows up. I received a text from Florida’s athletic director Scott Stricklin Sunday after I congratulated him on the hire. “You’re going to love this guy,” it said. He never said that to me about Dan Mullen.

Still, there are no guarantees here. This job obviously chews coaches up and spits them out. The fanbase will be patient until you lose the 2021 opener to Utah. I mean, IF that happens.

Napier is not going to inherit a top 25 team. He is going to lose a tin from a 6-6 team. He can lean on the transfer portal to fill gaps the way Mullen did, but the first year for a coach on the recruiting trail is usually the least productive of the careers of the best coaches.

It’s not going to be easy. But he was the right choice to try to fix a program that suddenly and surprisingly was broken.

Again.

This was obviously someone Stricklin was targeting since the day he decided to move on from Mullen. He can deny that he started thinking about it then, but that would put him in a slim minority of people wearing orange and blue.

Now, we get to see if this works after a decade of highs and lows.

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