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Investigating Billy Napier's Hiring, What's True and What's Important

Whether Billy Napier was really Florida’s “primary target” is not as important as signing the best head coach for the Florida job.

What person out there really believes that now Florida Head Football Coach Bill Napier was the No. 1 target for the Gators? Stand up and be accountable. Where are you?

Well, while researching Coach Napier and his history, an interesting statement came across the computer screen. It’s an old and tired practice by athletic directors across college football.

Was Coach Napier a top target, in general, for the Gators? Yes, absolutely. Now read the following full statement from Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin about Coach Napier being hired.

“I’ve followed and studied Billy Napier’s career with interest, and he became the primary target immediately after it became open. 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.”

There’s a lot to unravel about those comments from Mr. Stricklin. First, know that Coach Napier is believed to be a good hire, at least, from intel that's been received. See below for more details. With that, a secondary point needs to be brought to light first.

As someone who’s covered multiple coaching searches around the country for a long time, there’s a trend to know.

Regardless of the school, the lying that goes on regarding statements like “only interviewed” or “only met with” or “only had interest in” leads to two things: just fill in the blank with a coach’s name, as well as the school, in question because almost every one of them lie in some way, shape or form in an effort to appease the fans of that particular school.

Scott Stricklin, Athletic Director, University of Florida

Scott Stricklin, Athletic Director, University of Florida

Moreover, it’s all about spin. It’s a bad attempt to win a public perception battle that’s unwinnable. If anyone believes Stricklin was not attempting to walk around not getting his top target with the “...only candidate I met with statement,” there’s some good swamp land near Gainesville for sale. Interested?

That’s just a way of avoiding saying top-notch and proven head coaches said no through their agents and/or over the phone and/or through intermediaries.

In Mr. Stricklin’s defense, it’s incredibly difficult to hire a top-notch head coach. It’s not like hiring a college head football coach is similar to a delivery service for some excellent pie from Satchel’s Pizza in Gainesville (the research on that establishment is good, too). Ironically, he still may have made the best hire based on what’s been learned about Coach Napier to date.

From all the intel this writer has gathered, Coach Napier is an excellent hire. Kudos to Florida for landing him, but the “primary target” is just a bold face lie.

Any Florida fan that believes the Gators wanted Napier above any other coach is not being very smart. Same with a fan of any other school believing their athletic director’s comments when someone like Dabo Swinney or Lincoln Riley or Lane Kiffin or Ryan Day said no.

With that in mind, no that big-time coaches come from many different backgrounds.

Urban Meyer came from Utah to Florida, Lou Holtz went to Notre Dame from Minnesota, and Jimmy Johnson went to Miami from Oklahoma State.

All of those coaches went up in brand name when they took their respective head coaching jobs that made them famous. Hiring a head coach that came directly from a name brand college program is not the only way to go about being successful with a coaching search, however, Florida included.

Florida might have landed the best candidate for the job because he’s hungry and he’s worked for some of the best in the business (Coach Swinney at Clemson and Coach Nick Saban at Alabama). He’s been a part of the wars while being a part of multiple staffs that constantly finished in the top five in the polls.

Regardless of which coaches Mr. Stricklin wanted to hire, he still might have come up with the best hire. In the end, that’s what is most important for the University of Florida.

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