Florida football got an injection of youth when it hired former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Billy Napier to take over for Dan Mullen in 2021. The 42-year-old up-and-comer in the coaching ranks is among the brightest stars when it comes to those who land under the arbitrary 45-year-old line, especially in the eyes of CBS Sports which recently published its top-10 young head coaches heading into the 2022 campaign.
According to author Dennis Dodd, Napier lands at No. 4 on the list, following top-ranked USC coach Lincoln Riley — who also has recently arrived at his program — as well as Ohio State‘s Ryan Day and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, respectively. Here is what he had to say about his fourth pick.
40-12 (.769) in four seasons at Louisiana: Napier methodically climbed the ladder as one of the first products of Nick Saban’s coaching tree at Alabama. At the tender age of 29, he was Dabo Swinney’s first offensive coordinator at Clemson. The former Furman quarterback is a program builder who went 33-5 in the last three seasons at Louisiana. Napier was the perfect hire for Florida after the messy ending to the Dan Mullen era. Florida needed normal. It got it in the soft-spoken Napier. AD Scott Stricklin loves to hire coaches on the come up. Day and Riley are the only other coaches on this list to average 10 wins a season. 2021 ranking: 7
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel rounds out the top five of the list, with Florida State’s Mike Norvell at No. 9 and fellow SEC school Missouri’s Eli Drinkowitz rounding out the top 10. It has yet to be seen if Napier has lived up the hype, but the media appears to be very bullish on the young skipper. Hopefully, for Florida’s sake, he is able to bring the Gators back to the promised land.
Florida’s season opener among ESPN’s most-anticipated games in 2022