Source says Florida asks ULL coach Napier to replace Mullen
Gainesville, Florida. — Billy Napier of Louisiana-Lafayette will be Florida’s next soccer coach, ending a swift process that made the Gators their number one target, a person familiar with the research told The Associated Press on Sunday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Napier and Gators have not yet made the hiring official. An official announcement is expected later Sunday.
The 42-year-old is expected to stay with Rajin Cajones (11-1) this week as they prepare to host Appalachian State (10-2) in their Sunbelt Conference Championship game on Saturday. He is 39-12 in four seasons at Lafayette, including 32-5 the past three years.
Hey ho! Sports first reported that Florida was moving to hire Napier.
Napier will then take charge of Dan Mullen, who was sacked last week after the team’s fourth defeat in five games. Mullen was abandoned less than a year after leading the Giants to the New Year’s Six-Party Cup for the third time in a row.
Mullen’s stunningly quick fall ended two turbulent seasons that included mounting losses, several PR gaffes, and NCAA penalties.
Florida Sports Director Scott Stricklin quickly moved on to Napier, the former Alabama reception coach under Nick Saban and former offensive coordinator for Clemson and Arizona State.
Napier has been one of the rising football stars and hottest names in recent years. He has been in a mix of current slots at Virginia Tech and TCU.
He also turned down Mississippi State after the 2019 season and dropped out of South Carolina and Auburn after the 2020 season. His name has been linked to other openings in the Southeast Conference as well, including Mississippi and Missouri.
He takes over a Florida program that has been in shambles for more than a year, but is close to opening an $85 million soccer facility that could help the team catch up with recruitment. And that could help the Gators bridge the gap between superpowers like Georgia and Alabama.
Florida had lost nine of its last 11 games against teams from its subdivision football before beating rival Florida State on Saturday. A 24-21 victory in the swamp made Florida (6-6) qualified.
Stricklin certainly hopes to help Napier Florida continue the offensive success it has enjoyed in most of Mullen’s four seasons while providing a better culture and more accountability on and off the field.
Napier is known for his detailed organizational skills which he built during his time with Saban. Napier’s approach has led to unprecedented success in the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Louisiana was not classified from 1943 until Napier’s arrival. The team never won ten games until Napier arrived, and has now done so in three consecutive seasons. Beat Iowa State in the 2020 season opener.
Napier, a native of Cookeville, Tennessee, was a former Foreman quarterback in South Carolina. His coaching career took a huge step forward while coaching the recipients in Alabama (2013-16), working with superstars Amary Cooper and Calvin Ridley.
He tapped that into a job as Arizona State offensive coordinator in 2017 under Todd Graham, who averaged the Sun Devils 31.8 points before Louisiana hired Napier.
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