GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators have selected Billy Napier as the 28th head coach in program history, University of Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin announced Sunday.
Napier, who spent the last four seasons as Louisiana’s head coach (2018-21), will lead the Ragin’ Cajuns in this year’s Sun Belt Conference Championship Game when they face App State Saturday, Dec. 4.
He will arrive in Gainesville Sunday, Dec. 5 and a press conference will be held that same day on campus. Details for the press conference will be shared at a later time.
“We are humbled and honored to accept this incredible opportunity to be the head football coach at the university of Florida,” Napier said. “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, whose coaching experience includes stops at Alabama, Clemson, Arizona State, Colorado State and South Carolina State, compiled an overall 39-12 record with the Ragin’ Cajuns. The 42-year-old led Louisiana to four Sun Belt Conference West Division tiles and one conference championship during his time at UL Lafayette.“We embrace the expectations and are excited about the challenge ahead. We will assemble a special group of people and immediately get to work building a great program. A special thank you to President Dr. Fuchs and Athletic Director Scott Stricklin. We look forward to getting to Gainesville and starting this journey!” Napier, who was named the Louisiana Sports Writer Association Coach of the Year in 2020 and the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2019, took the Ragin’ Cajuns to unprecedented heights when the team broke into the national rankings last year for the first time in the modern era. The team finished the 2020 campaign ranked No. 15 in the AP Top 25, No. 16 in the USA Today/Amway Coaches Poll and No. 19 in the College Football Playoff, Louisiana’s highest rankings in all three polls. “I’ve followed and studied Billy Napier’s career with interest, and he became the primary target immediately after this position came open,” Stricklin said. “We felt confident he would be an excellent leader for the Gators, which is why he was the only candidate I met with about the job.
Louisiana owns a 27-7 record against Sun Belt opposition under Napier, including a perfect 16-0 mark against members of the conference’s West Division.“Billy’s ability to bring highly-talented people together – players, coaches, and staff – along with his vision for having a strong, relationship-based culture is what made him such an attractive choice. Add in how detailed his plan is for player development, staffing and recruiting, along with a sustained desire to improve, and it’s easy to see why he’s been successful. Regarded as one of the most talented recruiters in college football, Napier played an instrumental role in the 2011 and 2015 National Championships at Alabama, where he served as wide receivers coach (2013-17) and offensive analyst (2011) under Head Coach Nick Saban. “I’m so pleased that Billy, Ali, Annie, Sammy Nelson and Charlie are coming to Gainesville. It’s an exciting day for the Gators.”
During his time in Tuscaloosa, Napier coached 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner Amari Cooper, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
In 70 games with Alabama, Napier helped the Tide to a combined 63-7 record in five seasons, including the 26 consecutive wins from 2015-2016. Alabama’s offense averaged 6.27 yards per play and 36.4 points per game during that stretch.Prior to Alabama, Napier spent seven seasons at Clemson where he first began his career as a graduate assistant (2003-04) and later served as tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator (2006-08) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2009-10). During his three seasons as the Tiger’s recruiting coordinator, Napier compiled two top-25 recruiting classes, and in 2008, his class was tabbed as the second-best in the nation by ESPN.com. In 2009, Napier’s first season as Clemson’s offensive coordinator, the Tigers scored a school-record 436 points and collected 54 touchdowns, the third-most in school history. Napier’s offense led the way that year, helping Clemson finish as the ACC Atlantic Division champions.
Napier also served as offensive coordinator at Arizona State (2017) and assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach at Colorado State (2012).Napier is a graduate of Furman University, where he was a four-year letterman and a two-time All-Southern Conference selection as the school’s starting quarterback. Napier grew up in Chatsworth, Georgia, and graduated from Murray County High School in 1998. He is married to the former Ali Gunn and the couple has a daughter, Annie, and sons, Sammy Nelson and Charlie. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from Furman in 2002.
Florida Gators Athletics contributed to this column