He got two in the last 48 hours, anyway, when Texas A&M bit the $77 million bullet to fire Jimbo Fisher and Mississippi State canned Zach Arnett after 11 games (including January’s ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa).
Those decisions have done nothing to deter Napier’s belief in his timeline to turn around the Gators after his 11-12 start.
“Absolutely,” Napier said Monday. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
It is fair, however, to wonder if the Gators knew it would be this hard.
LSU’s 701 yards were the most Florida has ever allowed. The Gators have now surrendered at least 39 points in four consecutive games for the first time ever. Florida needs to pull a significant upset at No. 11 Missouri or against No. 4 Florida State to avoid three consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1945-47.
Though Napier’s job does not appear to be in jeopardy, the questions intensify with every loss and decommitment (top-150 prospects Jamonta Waller and Wardell Mack both backed off this weekend). Napier knows scrutiny is part of the job.
“You don’t just flip a coin to decide to be the head coach of the Florida Gators,” Napier said. “For me, you go into it with a strategy and a plan. You adapt. You evolve. You adjust. And we’re in the middle of our process, right?”
The question is, how much will that process change this offseason?
Don’t expect any big-picture evaluations or assessments until then; a hasty overhaul doesn’t fit Napier’s deliberate approach, and some of his options aren’t available. He can’t restock the roster until next month’s early signing period and transfer portal window. He can’t transform his secondary’s true freshmen starters into juniors overnight. Abandoning the defensive system and staffing structure he doubled down on this offseason isn’t realistic now either.
But listen to Napier carefully, and it’s clear that something will have to change. After reviewing Florida’s defensive performance at LSU, Napier said he saw issues with communication and alignment plus things to improve in fundamentals and techniques.
“It’s much like every week,” Napier said.
Which sounds like its own problem.
Napier said his background has equipped him with the skills necessary to handle the job’s pressure — things like faith, perseverance and ingenuity. His personality and demeanor were among the reasons why Florida hired him in the first place.
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“I think we have to continue to be action oriented, solution oriented,” Napier said. “I do believe in what we do and how we do it. There’s always adjustments that are required. We have tremendous leadership here top-down. We have great resources. We have a tremendous product to sell.
“This place has done it before, and I’m firmly confident that we’re capable of doing it again.”
Mike Norvell on Texas A&M
Multiple respected national reporters have mentioned Florida State’s Mike Norvell as a potential candidate to replace Fisher at Texas A&M. Norvell said during Monday’s news conference there’s “not really any point to talk about it” because he can’t control the speculation.
“And obviously we’re so excited about what we’re building here, where we’re going, the opportunity that’s ahead,” Norvell said. “I mean, it’s a special place. I think that speaks for itself.”
Week 13 kickoff, TV information
Conferences finalized the start times and TV designations for most of next week’s games:
Miami at Boston College (Friday): Noon, ABC
Florida State at Florida: 7 p.m., ESPN
Charlotte at USF: 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
Details for UCF’s home finale against Houston will be announced after this week’s games.
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