Florida announced on Sunday that Louisiana’s Billy Napier has been hired as the Gators’ new football coach.
“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 statement. “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.
“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. [Kent] Fuchs and Athletic Director Scott Stricklin. We look forward to getting to Gainesville and starting this journey!”
On Saturday, Napier will coach the Ragin’ Cajuns in their Sun Belt championship game against Appalachian State.
Napier, 42, has spent the last four seasons at Louisiana, leading the Ragin’ Cajuns to ten wins or more in each of the last three seasons. Louisiana has never won ten games in a season before his arrival in the program’s history.
In recent years, he has turned down many SEC head-coaching possibilities and has surfaced as a candidate for a number of high-profile roles this season. During this hiring cycle, LSU and Virginia Tech were also interested in Napier.
In a statement, Stricklin stated, “I’ve followed and studied Billy Napier’s career with interest, and he became the primary target immediately after this position came open.” “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.”
Napier, a former Furman quarterback, worked for Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Alabama’s Nick Saban. Before taking the Louisiana job in 2018, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona State for one season.
Napier’s offences at Louisiana have averaged 31.9 points per game or more in each of his four seasons in Lafayette.
In Saturday’s regular-season finale, Florida defeated Florida State 24-21 to finish 6-6 and qualify for the postseason. The Gators’ 2-6 record in the SEC was their lowest since 1986.
Since Will Muschamp’s final season in Gainesville in 2014, Napier has been the fourth Florida head coach. The last time the Gators won an SEC championship was in 2008. They won eight SEC championships between 1991 and 2008, six of which were earned by Steve Spurrier.