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You've probably noticed that businesses like fast-food restaurants and retail stores are struggling to find employees.
Has new Florida football coach Billy Napier snapped up the entire workforce?
Among the positions Napier has filled since Florida hired him in November:
Director of player engagement and name, image and likeness
Director of speed improvement and skill development
Assistant athletic director for recruiting strategy
Director of advanced scouting and self-scout
Director of research and evaluation
Director of recruiting innovation
Director of college personnel
Oh, and he hired an assistant director of football operations, logistics and analytics, which suggests that at some point he’ll hire a director of football operations, logistics and analytics.
These positions are in addition to the 10 assistant coaches, graduate assistants, analysts, strength and conditioning staff, recruiting department personnel and nutritionists to which Power Five programs are accustomed.
Coaching staffs are different today compared to when Napier started his career as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 2003.
“I think when I started, we had nine assistants, two (graduate assistants), an ops guy and a high school relations guy,” said Napier, a native of Cookeville, Tennessee, who grew up in north Georgia. “Early in my career, one of the nine assistants ran recruiting – the whole operation. ... The game is evolving.”
The only position that seems missing from Napier’s staff is director of smoothie making, but he might be in the midst of reviewing résumés or conducting blender tryouts.
When it comes to coaching staff gluttony, Napier learned from the best. He coached wide receivers at Alabama under Nick Saban from 2013-16. Saban revolutionized the concept of filling a staff to the gills with analysts.
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NCAA rules limit football programs to 10 assistants, but they do not put a cap on quality control analysts, scouting directors, recruiting wizards or cafeteria workers.
Saban turned Alabama into an outpost for coaches looking to polish their reputation. Analysts who worked under Saban include fired head coaches like Steve Sarkisian, Butch Jones, Charlie Strong and Major Applewhite, along with fired coordinators like Mike Locksley and Mike Stoops.
Saban’s rehab program works.
Locksley, Jones and Sarkisian departed Alabama for head coaching jobs. Applewhite and Stoops left for coordinator positions, and Strong exited for an NFL job.
Napier might start his own trend: hiring former NFL talent evaluators.
Bird Sherrill, Florida’s director for college personnel, worked six seasons in the NFL’s Detroit Lions’ scouting department. Sherrill will focus on evaluating players who are in the transfer portal and junior college players.
Given the importance of transfers in today’s game, Napier is wise to dedicate personnel to scouting and evaluating transfers.
At its core, college football is a game of talent acquisition. Teams that assemble the most talent usually have a chance to win national championships. College teams should look more to the NFL as a model for building scouting departments.
This Saban-esque staff setup isn't new for Napier. He installed a smaller version during his four seasons as Louisiana’s coach in the Sun Belt Conference.
“Billy had a plan. He had a vision. He had a process,” Ragin’ Cajuns athletics director Bryan Maggard told me last summer. “We talked about what he experienced, programmatically, at Alabama, and could we do a mini version of that?”
Former UL linebacker Ferrod Gardner told me that the biggest change he noticed after Napier replaced Mark Hudspeth as UL's coach was the number of people monitoring practices.
“There were way more GAs, way more (quality control analysts), a lot more eyes watching us during practice or during workouts,” Gardner said in June. “I think that made everybody want to work a little bit harder (to impress the staff).”
Napier is no longer curtailed by Group of Five budget constraints. Florida’s athletic department generated $175 million in revenue (seventh nationally) for the 2020 fiscal year, compared to Louisiana’s $30.2 million.
By assembling a platoon of employees, Napier aims to lower Florida’s player-to-staff member ratio. And, conceivably, the more minds you have working toward improving your product, the better. But this goes beyond a numbers game, Napier explained. He hopes assembling a mega-staff will enhance the quality of life of each staff member.
“One of the things I appreciated about some of these places I worked in the past is you had a team of people that helped you, and that allows you to delegate,” Napier said.
“That allows you to be really efficient with your time, to get good at the things that are important, kind of keep the main thing the main thing, not get caught up in the minutiae. Hand some of those things off, and focus on the things that really affect the final product.”
I figure I better soak up Napier’s comments offered last week at his news conference. One of these days, he might delegate that task to an assistant director of news conference relations.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Florida football: How Billy Napier is emulating Nick Saban playbook