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Gators hire Billy Napier as next football coach

42-year-old to remain with Louisiana for Sun Belt Conference title game
Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns head coach Billy Napier before game in 2021
Posted at 2:32 PM, Nov 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-28 19:35:30-05

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Billy Napier has been hired as the next football coach at Florida.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin announced the hire Sunday, exactly one week after Dan Mullen was fired.

Napier, who has spent the last four seasons as head coach at Louisiana, will remain with the Ragin' Cajuns this week as they prepare to host Appalachian State in the Sun Belt Conference championship game. His introductory news conference will be held Dec. 5 in Gainesville.

"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 in a statement. "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 Ragin' Cajuns head coach Billy Napier looks up at scoreboard during game against Louisiana-Monroe, Nov. 27, 2021
Louisiana head coach Billy Napier walks on the sideline during a game against Louisiana-Monroe, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Lafayette, La.

The 42-year-old takes over for Mullen, who was fired after the Gators finished Southeastern Conference play with their fewest league wins since 1986 and watched seven recruits from the class of 2022 decommit since October.

"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."

Napier is 39-12 since taking over at Louisiana in 2018, winning three consecutive division titles each of the last three seasons and leading the Ragin' Cajuns to a Sun Belt co-championship in 2020.

His 20th-ranked Cajuns are currently riding an 11-game winning streak after dropping their season opener at Texas.

"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 took to Twitter to thank Louisiana players and administrators for believing in him and providing him "every resource to build this program."

"I am forever indebted to all of you," he said.

Louisiana athletic director Bryan Maggard wrote on Twitter that he "could not be happier for and more proud of Billy Napier as he begins his next chapter of coaching at the University of Florida."

Maggard said the school will "soon turn to identifying the next head coach" of the Cajuns.