Louisiana coach Billy Napier juggling two jobs this week before starting at Florida

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Louisiana coach Billy Napier is juggling two jobs this week after being hired Sunday by Florida. 

He’s working the phones for coaches and recruits to join him in Gainesville, but his days will be consumed with preparing his 11-1 Ragin’ Cajuns for the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game against Appalachian State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. 

Until that game is over, Napier’s current team will be his priority team. 

“I think the bowl game will be to-be-determined,” Napier said Monday. “There was no question regarding coaching in the conference championship. I mean, that was non-negotiable, and I think it’s also important for everyone to realize the commitment that we’ve made to the players here and the staff here to really kind of take a singular focus on trying to do the best job we can do for this team in our preparation this week.

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“There was never a doubt we were going to coach in the game and certainly even now we tried to get the (UF) announcement out of the way (Sunday). We’ll have a total focus this week on the conference championship game. When we’re done here Saturday, we'll move forward and start working on the challenges that are ahead of us.” 

That includes hiring a staff and trying to put together a recruiting class with the early signing period (Dec. 15) approaching. Florida’s 2022 class currently ranks in the 30s on 247Sports and Rivals with 12 verbal commitments. 

Napier will spend late nights and early mornings talking to recruits and interviewing coaching candidates, while dedicating his days to practice and prep for App State. Napier will have to “compartmentalize a little bit.”

“I do think it’s part of the challenge,” he said of the balancing act. “We’ve tried to make a decision that we’re going to focus on the task at hand. I think from a loyalty standpoint, anything less than that would be — that’s not who we are and not what we’re about. 

“We’ve allocated some time early in the morning and late at night to work on some of the future challenges that we have (at Florida), but my schedule won’t change this week. I think we owe that to the players, and certainly that’s the approach that we’ll take.” 

Louisiana coach Billy Napier will remain with the Ragin Cajuns this week as they prepare to host Appalachian State in the Sun Belt Conference championship game Saturday. He will be introduced as Florida's coach at a news conference Sunday in Gainesville.

Billy Napier's coaching staff at Florida

Napier also discussed what his approach will be to building a staff at Florida. He’s expected to bring some of his ULL assistant coaches and recruiting staffers with him to Gainesville. 

“It starts with surrounding yourself with great people,” he said. “You need complementary talent, but you have to have a shared vision. You’ve got to build trust over time by being really consistent and being fair. Communication’s a big part of that ... within the building, coach to player, player to player and player to coach. 

“Assembling a staff and certainly evaluating in recruiting and building a roster that not only has talent, but also is made of the right intangibles. It’s one thing to collect talent. I think it’s another thing to build a team.” 

Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill opened his part of the news conference by congratulating Napier on the UF job. 

“Certainly excited for Coach Napier,” Gill said. “I’m probably more excited for Florida in a sense that they’re getting an unbelievable coach — unbelievable person. Someone who I really enjoyed working with during my time here at the Sun Belt Conference. Great character guy, great coach, and really excited for him and excited for the University of Florida.

“I’ve always been struck at how thoughtful he is — really smart, really thoughtful person. He’s one of the coaches that I certainly leaned on when I was trying to get advice and just the way he kind of approaches things, the level of care and deliberation he puts into making decisions. The Gators and Gator Nation are going to be in store for a lot of success and a program they can really be proud of.”

Two Gators enter transfer portal

A pair of UF players who won't be part of Napier's program. 

Redshirt junior defensive end Dante Zanders, formerly Dante Lang, and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Gerald Mincey have both entered their names into the transfer portal. 

Zanders recorded six tackles and 0.5 sacks in 11 games played this season, while Mincey appeared in nine games and didn't allow a sack against Vanderbilt. 

Up next

The Gators find out their bowl destination during the college football playoff and bowl selection show starting at noon Sunday on ESPN.