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- American-football player (1979-)
New Florida Gators coach Billy Napier will soon be making a move.
But for now he remains coach of the No. 21 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns ahead of Saturday's Sun Belt Conference championship against Appalachian State, and nothing, not even a new SEC job, is going to change that.
Florida announced Sunday that it has hired Napier to replace the fired Dan Mullen.
Napier plans to coach the Ragin' Cajuns (11-1, 8-0 Sun Belt Conference) when they face the Mountaineers (10-2, 7-1) on Saturday (2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN) at Cajun Field.
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“There was no question regarding coaching in the championship game,” Napier said Monday. “I mean, that was non-negotiable.
“It’s also important for everyone to realize the commitment we have made to the players here and the staff here to really kind take a singular focus on trying to do the best job we could for this team … in our preparation this week.
“So there was never a doubt that we were going to coach in the game,” Napier added, “and … then when we’re done here Saturday we’ll move forward and start working on the challenges that are ahead of us.”
Cajuns bowl game
Whether Napier will coach in UL's upcoming bowl game is another matter.
UL athletics director Bryan Maggard said Sunday there is a “decent indication" the Cajuns will play in the Dec. 18 New Orleans Bowl, but that is “not final.”
Napier was not willing Monday to commit to coaching there.
“The bowl game will be to-be-determined,” he said.
UL has not named an interim coach , a school spokesman said Monday.
After UL fired Mark Hudspeth and hired Napier following the end of the 2017 season, assistant coach Michael Desormeaux – a former Cajuns quarterback – was named interim coach. Napier retained Desormeaux from Hudspeth’s staff.
Desormeaux has been tight ends coach for three seasons, and has served as co-offensive coordinator along with receivers coach Tim Leger this season.
Also still on staff is unpaid quality control consultant and former UL Monroe coach Matt Viator, who has been working closely alongside Napier since being fired after the 2020 season.
Title game focus
Maggard acknowledged that not having Napier as a play-caller could complicate things for UL in whatever bowl game it plays.
“It can, to some degree,” he said, “but I think we have great play-calling ability on our current staff.”
For now, though, the focus is on the Sun Belt Conference title game. Even if it means some relatively sleepless nights for Napier as he straddles both jobs.
“We’re gonna focus on task at hand,” Napier said. “From a loyalty standpoint, anything less than that, that’s not who we are and what we’re about.
“So we’re in the middle of preparing as we speak here, and we’ve allocated some time early in the morning and late at night to work on the some of the future challenges that we have. But my schedule won’t change this week.”
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: New Florida football coach Billy Napier Ragin' Cajuns title game bowl