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Florida hires Louisiana's Billy Napier as next head coach

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Florida has found its replacement for Dan Mullen.

The university announced Sunday that it has hired Louisiana head coach Billy Napier as its the next head coach.

Napier has been the head coach at Louisiana for the past four seasons and has led the Ragin’ Cajuns to four division titles and one Sun Belt championship. Napier has a 39-12 record at Louisiana. Over the past three seasons, UL's record is 32-5 with a 23-2 mark in conference play.

The Ragin’ Cajuns currently are 11-1 and are set to face Appalachian State in the Sun Belt title game on Saturday. Napier will coach in that game and then be introduced as Florida's coach in Gainesville the following day, Dec. 5.

"I've followed and studied Billy Napier's career with interest, and he became the primary target immediately after this position came open," Florida athletic director Scott 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-Lafayette head coach Billy Napier runs on the field before an NCAA college football game against Louisiana-Monroe in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Billy Napier runs on the field before an NCAA college football game against Louisiana-Monroe in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Napier replaces Dan Mullen

Napier, 42, will fill the shoes of Mullen, who was fired last week before the conclusion of his fourth season in Gainesville. Mullen led UF to the SEC East title in 2020, but the Gators had just a 5-6 record when Mullen was let go.

Florida lost nine of its 11 games against Power Five opponents under Mullen's watch and had fallen behind its SEC counterparts in recruiting. The Gators closed out the regular season with a win over Florida State on Saturday. With the win, UF finished 6-6 and reached bowl eligibility.

"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," Stricklin said. "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."

Before he landed the head-coaching job at Louisiana, Napier spent time as an assistant at Clemson, Alabama, Colorado State, Florida State and Arizona State. Most notably, he had a four-season stint as the wide receivers coach under Nick Saban at Alabama. He also was the offensive coordinator at ASU and the recruiting coordinator at Clemson.

"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."

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