The first-year Gators coach is coming off a successful four-year stint as head coach at Louisiana, going 40-12 and winning the Sun Belt West division in all four seasons. He led the Ragin’ Cajuns to a Sun Belt conference championship in 2021, reaching as high as 19th in the College Football Playoff rankings and as high as 15th in the AP poll. He has two Sun Belt Coach of the Year awards (2019 & 2021) and has won at least ten games for three straight seasons (2019-2021).
Due to his accolades at his prior stop, the expectations in Gainesville are very high for Napier. In his introductory press conference, Napier preached patience with the fans, saying that he was building an “army of people” to help revamp the Florida football program, from top to bottom.
Napier had 59 days from when he was hired to the end of the 2022 recruiting cycle. The Gators finished the 2022 recruiting cycle ranked 20th nationally and 9th in the SEC.
It’s understandable why a first-time SEC head coach who has only four seasons of head coaching experience would be ranked in the bottom half of SEC coaches. National championship-winning coaches such as Kirby Smart, and Nick Saban (whom Napier learned from during two different stints as an Alabama assistant) are the flag bearers in the SEC. It’ll be up to Napier and the Gators to see if his ranking can rise this time next season.
Napier will look to make his Gators coaching debut against the Utah Utes on Saturday, September, 3 at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN.
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