Billy Napier appears all but destined to become the next football coach for the Florida Gators. On Saturday, Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported the move, including that the deal was reaching its final stages.
For the last month various possible coaching candidates have swirled around the LSU program but further reporting from SI says that the LSU athletic department never made much of a pursuit in the University of Louisiana-Lafayette coach.
Athletic director Scott Woodward has kept this coaching search extremely close to the vest so not much concrete information has surfaced into who he is truly pursuing. Rumors ran rampant this past week that LSU would pursue Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley but Riley shot down those rumors on Saturday night after the Sooners loss to Oklahoma State.
Napier knows Louisiana recruiting better than most and with the resources at his disposal in Florida, should have a much easier time making a case to potential recruits in the state.
With reports also surfacing of contract extensions for Michigan State's Mel Tucker, Penn State's James Franklin and Baylor's Dave Aranda, all of the sudden a number of highly touted candidates are no longer available.
Now with the news of Napier on his way to Gainesville, an inner SEC rival, the pressure to get this hire right is all the more important. Letting an in state, up and coming coach leave Louisiana for an SEC rival no less, is not a good look and whoever the Tigers bring in, their careers will immediately be intertwined with Napier and Florida.
This is undoubtedly a hire that will define Woodward's legacy in Baton Rouge following a career of being able to lure big fish wherever he's been. It's quite possible there's a mystery candidate still unknown to the public but with each passing hour, finding the "home run" hire feels more and more distant.