Latest College Football Coach Rumors: Is Napier a Castle in Florida?

Latest College Football Coach Rumors: Is Napier a Castle in Florida?

Tech Highlights:

  • During a press conference following Dan Mullen’s dismissal Sunday morning, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin made it clear who was in charge of the search (while also carefully stopping short when asked whether he was consulting a search firm).

  • Only a few weeks earlier, Miami president Julio Frenk used language to imply that he would be more involved with the football team “by fostering seamless alignment between the Board of Trustees, my whole administration, and the sports department.” When you’re hiring a football coach for millions of dollars, it’s ipsum lorem business talk meets the rising corporatization of collegiate athletics. Although there isn’t a vacancy in Miami right now, there is one a few hours north in Gainesville, Florida, that has to be addressed in depth from an alignment standpoint.

“One thing that doesn’t get talked a lot about, we have incredible alignment among our university hierarchy, from the Board of Trustees to [president Kent Fuchs], myself, the University Athletic Association Board, Gator Boosters Board,” Stricklin said. “You guys probably see things from other schools where trustees are trying to get involved in the decision-making process and who’s really calling the shots. That doesn’t happen here at the University of Florida.

Well, that’s one way to approach things if you are trying to create a juxtaposition between your job and the minds of prospective candidates.

“I describe our Board, our administration on campus, they’re not like defensive linemen. If the AD is the quarterback trying to make decisions, they’re not defensive linemen trying to get at me trying to force me to make a certain decision. They’re like offensive linemen trying to protect me and give me a clean pocket.”

That distinction might be key for reasons we’ve written about before. Let’s use Louisiana’s Billy Napier as an example. Napier has been connected to multiple SEC vacancies over the past few years and is in the mix at Florida, as well. But last winter, when he was in the running for Auburn’s open coaching role, the Tigers’ dysfunction quickly turned him off. It was clear Auburn was not “aligned” after a booster coup was scuttled by a social media campaign, which then led to AD Allen Greene and president Jay Gogue leaning on a search firm to hire Brian Harsin out of left field.

Florida’s alignment is a factor all candidates must vet for themselves. Stricklin is still feeling some heat due to the recent women’s basketball scandal, while Fuchs is in even hotter water due to a wide-ranging scandal involving the initial barring of multiple professors from testifying in a voting rights lawsuit. It will be up to the prospective coaching candidates to decide for themselves just how aligned UF really is now and how much it will continue to be in the future.


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