• Thu. May 19th, 2022

New Florida Gators coach Billy Napier plans to hire ‘unprecedented’ support staff

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New Florida coach Billy Napier plans to hire an “unprecedented” support staff, he said Sunday.

Napier had nearly 40 analysts in Louisiana-Lafayette and could end up with even more in Gainesville. In addition to an annual budget of $7.5 million for 10 assistants, Napier secured a pool of $5 million to build support staff including analysts.

His vision for Florida — and athletic director Scott Stricklin’s drive to make it a reality — stood out during Napier’s official introduction.

Napier and his family arrived in a sea of ​​fans dressed in orange and blue at the airport, and others waited for him to exit a van outside Florida Field. It was all a bit surreal for the 42-year-old coach, who has been one of college football’s rising stars in recent years.

“I’m drinking water through a fire hose right now,” Napier said.

“These jobs will chew you up and spit you out if you let them, won’t they?” he added later. “I think we have to keep perspective. We have to have a balance. I think that’s one of the reasons why I believe in the infrastructure that we’re going to create. … It’s going to be the most difficult at the beginning, but once we get this machine going, I think we can have a rhythm of life where we can enjoy.”

Napier accepted the job without visiting the Florida campus, its football facilities or The Swamp (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium). His last trip to Gainesville was in 2011 as an analyst at Alabama, which rolled the Gators 38-10. Napier remembers it well as it was part of one of the most influential seasons of his coaching career.

“During this year, I think I learned more than I learned in the previous 10 years,” he said.

Napier got to see first-hand how legendary coach Nick Saban built and led Alabama’s program, and he plans to mold much of Florida’s ways after powerhouse Alabama.

“We’re going to hire an army of people here,” he said. “We will create an infrastructure not only in the personnel department, but also from campus recruitment, creative media, name, image and likeness. We have a great vision of the organization we’re going to create here.”

Napier’s diagram might have some wrinkles.

“Well, we’ll try to be different,” he said. “We’re going to try to put our personality, our turn, our brand into recruiting. We’re the University of Florida. … It’s going to take time. I’ve learned a lot. There’s no doubt that we’re going to apply that here.”

Stricklin has made it clear that he is open to upcoming changes, no matter the cost.

“He gives such a compelling reason why these things are going to help make the Gators better,” Stricklin said. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, we need this because.’ It was, “We need this because,” and then he goes through a blueprint of what the pieces are, how they fit together, and why it’s going to be important.

“When someone can explain why they need resources, it’s very easy to want to invest in that.”

Napier signed a term sheet Sunday that outlines the key points of his seven-year, $51.8 million contract. He would earn $7.1 million in his first season and get a raise of $100,000 a year before each of the remaining six years.

His contract also includes annual performance bonuses that can total up to $1.5 million more. Napier receives a signing bonus of $100,000 to help cover moving costs, two luxury cars, 16 tickets to each home and away game, 18 seats in a suite for home games and the personal use of University Athletic Association aircraft worth up to $70,000 per year.

The Gators will pay Napier’s $3 million buyout from Louisiana-Lafayette. His contract is 85% guaranteed, meaning he would get that percentage of what’s left if Florida fires him without cause. Napier, meanwhile, has a rolling buyout to leave Florida — the figure starts at $7 million before Dec. 31, 2022, and drops each time after that.

“The market is what the market is, unfortunately,” Stricklin said. “Here’s the thing: If Billy is as successful as I think he will be, we’ll never have to discuss buyouts. But, obviously, those things are there for a reason.”

Napier went 40-12 in four seasons at Lafayette, including 33-5 in the last three years. His time there culminated with a Sun Belt Championship.

He called Florida’s offer “the right place at the right time, with the right people and the right leadership.”

It could end up being a lot of people too. But the Gators are set to open an $85 million football facility that will accommodate a much larger workforce.

“We might have to build barracks, right?” said Stricklin jokingly. “He’s got the right vision. He’s the right person. I like the character he shows, the humility he shows, but he also has a plan. He’s very thoughtful. He knows what he’s got. done there.”