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2022 Coaching Search Retrospective

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
Here was my leader board for head coach at the University of Florida football program in 2022. If we ignore recruiting, NIL, investors, infrastructure, and long term program building, Dan Mullen should have been retained as head coach. Billy Napier was the 6th best option in a perfect world, arguably the 2nd best in a realistic world behind Luke Fickell. Applying another level of realism, Fickell was never going to leave the Midwest, so Napier really was the best option. Imagine if Florida had hired Mel Tucker and then had to fire him due to the way he treated women at Michigan State. James Franklin seems to have lost his mojo as coach and recruiter. Lane Kiffin would have been an interesting choice. Mark Stoops would never have come to Florida.
NameSchoolSalary, millionsBuyout, millionsWinsLossesTotal Win %Current School Win %
Dan MullenFlorida$7.60$12.001036063.19%70.83%
Mel TuckerMichigan State$6.00$6.00161355.17%64.71%
James FranklinPenn State$5.50$4.00904765.69%67.35%
Lane KiffinOle Miss$4.50$0.00744164.35%65.00%
Mark StoopsKentucky$5.001.75566347.06%47.06%
Luke FickellCincinnati$3.40$4.00512170.83%76.27%
Billy NapierLouisiana$2.00$3.00371275.51%75.51%
Jeff HafleyBoston College$3.00$0.0012957.14%57.14%
Jamey ChadwellCoastal Carolina$0.85$0.00875461.70%58.70%
Jeff LebbyOle Miss offensive coordinator$1.20$0.00N/AN/AN/AN/A
Joe BradyCarolina Panthers offensive coordinator$1.00$0.00N/AN/AN/AN/A

Luke Fickell and Billy Napier are the only head coaches on the list with a better winning record than Dan Mullen.
 

DRU2012

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Mullen HAD to go: We were not going to properly strengthen and rebuild this program under him.
I was NEVER a supporter of Kiffykins--as a person OR Coach at UF, at least.
As for the rest, well, this is simply NOT "a perfect world", the various "other candidates" (those noted above AND anyone ELSE you care to include--then or NOW) had and/or HAVE their own baggage or reasons why they wouldn't/ couldn't be considered at the time..
Anyway, here we are in "the PRESENT".
BILLY NAPIER was a bit of a surprising, "pulled from left field" choice by Strickland, who had a prior "relationship/awareness" with him, and upon checking out the growing list of this young Coach's results and success, I supported our AD and his braintrust's choice there.
Once made, that choice deserved SOME "reasonable amount of time" to see if he was up to the admittedly difficult, longterm task.
How long? Well, never mind "buy outs" and/or "contractual details"...For US out here it is more a question of "hope", "satisfaction" and "Onfield Results"...It is in THESE that, while he gained some early traction, but of late (more and more) ALL have gathered DOWNWARD MOMENTUM ...and NOW it is in the very last instance that a long, dark SHADOW is being cast:
You CANNOT be happier than myself or anyone ELSE at "the evidence of our EYES" at how COACHING ERRORS and POOR PLAY-CALLING, among a host of related confusion and missteps, have been directly responsible for at least TWO RECENT LOSSES.
I am not among the "rabble" immediately calling for his head as a result.
However, I warn you that there ARE those among STRICKLAND'S colleagues and supporters behind-the-scenes who are now calling into question the kind of leeway this Coach deserves if he will NOT make certain glaring changes.
You KNOW what these are--and so far this Coach has resisted those "suggestions" (that is very quickly growing into full on PRESSURE), at least during the season.
They TOO hear his "hints" that these COULD be addressed in the OFF-season...but perhaps you (and CERTAINLY Billy) ought to consider what ultimately happened when MULLEN took a similar public stance toward pressure--in HIS case for him to up his RECRUITING game.
Billy's "buy-out" may NOT irresistibly protect him from similar stubborn arrogance. There is both a lot of money AND a lot of angry, frustrated impatience bottled up in UF's "backroom" now.
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
Mullen HAD to go: We were not going to properly strengthen and rebuild this program under him.
I was NEVER a supporter of Kiffykins--as a person OR Coach at UF, at least.
As for the rest, well, this is simply NOT "a perfect world", the various "other candidates" (those noted above AND anyone ELSE you care to include--then or NOW) had and/or HAVE their own baggage or reasons why they wouldn't/ couldn't be considered at the time..
Anyway, here we are in "the PRESENT".
BILLY NAPIER was a bit of a surprising, "pulled from left field" choice by Strickland, who had a prior "relationship/awareness" with him, and upon checking out the growing list of this young Coach's results and success, I supported our AD and his braintrust's choice there.
Once made, that choice deserved SOME "reasonable amount of time" to see if he was up to the admittedly difficult, longterm task.
How long? Well, never mind "buy outs" and/or "contractual details"...For US out here it is more a question of "hope", "satisfaction" and "Onfield Results"...It is in THESE that, while he gained some early traction, but of late (more and more) ALL have gathered DOWNWARD MOMENTUM ...and NOW it is in the very last instance that a long, dark SHADOW is being cast:
You CANNOT be happier than myself or anyone ELSE at "the evidence of our EYES" at how COACHING ERRORS and POOR PLAY-CALLING, among a host of related confusion and missteps, have been directly responsible for at least TWO RECENT LOSSES.
I am not among the "rabble" immediately calling for his head as a result.
However, I warn you that there ARE those among STRICKLAND'S colleagues and supporters behind-the-scenes who are now calling into question the kind of leeway this Coach deserves if he will NOT make certain glaring changes.
You KNOW what these are--and so far this Coach has resisted those "suggestions" (that is very quickly growing into full on PRESSURE), at least during the season.
They TOO hear his "hints" that these COULD be addressed in the OFF-season...but perhaps you (and CERTAINLY Billy) ought to consider what ultimately happened when MULLEN took a similar public stance toward pressure--in HIS case for him to up his RECRUITING game.
Billy's "buy-out" may NOT irresistibly protect him from similar stubborn arrogance. There is both a lot of money AND a lot of angry, frustrated impatience bottled up in UF's "backroom" now.
Yep. The retrospective was intended to convey a message that looking at wins and losses alone does not help with evaluating a college football coach. College coaches are not paid to win or lose—they are paid to teach (coach) student athletes how to play football so the students, alumni, and fans can be entertained and send money to the athletics program (business unit).

Mullen would not have back-to-back losing seasons, but then again he would not have helped with the resurgence of the $10M NIL and $763M investor/ donor programs at Florida. Note that those are two different things. We everyday fans who complain the most on message boards invest about $2000 a person per year if we attend games, $1000 if donating to NIL or less than $100 of we are buying knockoff Gator gear off the internet. We are not going to complain loudly enough to get Napier fired because we are not donating $16k a year (Bull Gator), $12.6M (Hugh Hathcock), or $22M (Gary Condron). Those are the folks who were tired of Dan Mullen. Those are the ones who will have to pay Napier’s $19M to $34M buyout when they get tired. Those are the ones who will scrounge together $100M for the next coach after Napier. Those are the ones paying for the box seats and comfy Champions Level seating at a reduced seating stadium.

Billy Napier has convinced those folks that despite additional losses, he is worth investing in for the long haul. It is not just the buyout dollar amount that keeps Napier employed, but also his business acumen and vision.
 

DRU2012

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Yep. The retrospective was intended to convey a message that looking at wins and losses alone does not help with evaluating a college football coach. College coaches are not paid to win or lose—they are paid to teach (coach) student athletes how to play football so the students, alumni, and fans can be entertained and send money to the athletics program (business unit).

Mullen would not have back-to-back losing seasons, but then again he would not have helped with the resurgence of the $10M NIL and $763M investor/ donor programs at Florida. Note that those are two different things. We everyday fans who complain the most on message boards invest about $2000 a person per year if we attend games, $1000 if donating to NIL or less than $100 of we are buying knockoff Gator gear off the internet. We are not going to complain loudly enough to get Napier fired because we are not donating $16k a year (Bull Gator), $12.6M (Hugh Hathcock), or $22M (Gary Condron). Those are the folks who were tired of Dan Mullen. Those are the ones who will have to pay Napier’s $19M to $34M buyout when they get tired. Those are the ones who will scrounge together $100M for the next coach after Napier. Those are the ones paying for the box seats and comfy Champions Level seating at a reduced seating stadium.

Billy Napier has convinced those folks that despite additional losses, he is worth investing in for the long haul. It is not just the buyout dollar amount that keeps Napier employed, but also his business acumen and vision.
And I am telling you that SOME of those same folks are tiring of certain aspects of "This shit again...!" in Billy Napier's ongoing tenure...
As for this "vision" and "business acumen" you see and speak of, well, I suppose I will have to just take your word for all that right now--I neither know much about it, nor thus far can say I personally see it myself.
Look, you cannot COMPLETELY IGNORE "results", wherever they manifest themselves:
Recruiting, play-by-play, final scores or seasonal records...When questions begin to multiply in EVERY phase, cracks at every level, it WILL eventually have a growing impact.
Even the loud squawking of the rabble has its consequences--at the very least in its effect among all those commits, who read that online stuff (as do their family and friends who in turn whisper in their ears)--and of course there's the accompanying ongoing pressure from all those OTHER programs going after them.
Recruiting MAY just be another area where this Coach starts well but doesn't FINISH strongly, doesn't quite close the deal.
The jury is still out.
But you TOO have seen the latest evidence.
Are YOU "satisfied"--or even particularly "optimistic"?
I am willing to BET that, at BEST, you are currently "reserving judgment"--waiting to see how a number of these very issues, currently "in the balance", actually resolve themselves.
And in that you are hardly alone.
Let me ask you this:
How much will YOU take?
How long will YOU make excuses, if not for the Coach himself then for the cabal that installs and continues to monitor his relative "progress"--and will eventually make the ultimate decision resulting in any change?
Is there a "conscious point" where YOU will call for that change--or at least support them if/when THEY MAKE IT?
Just for the record, I'M not "there" yet either;
I AM somewhat worried though--on the EDGE, peering over the yawning chasm of "the long road back" should this thing tip the wrong way from here--We are clinging to a sheer wall, "The Promised Land" up there above us on this difficult climb, and that fall a mistake/mistep-or-two more from being our fate.
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
And I am telling you that SOME of those same folks are tiring of certain aspects of "This shit again...!" in Billy Napier's ongoing tenure...
As for this "vision" and "business acumen" you see and speak of, well, I suppose I will have to just take your word for all that right now--I neither know much about it, nor thus far can say I personally see it myself.
Look, you cannot COMPLETELY IGNORE "results", wherever they manifest themselves:
Recruiting, play-by-play, final scores or seasonal records...When questions begin to multiply in EVERY phase, cracks at every level, it WILL eventually have a growing impact.
Even the loud squawking of the rabble has its consequences--at the very least in its effect among all those commits, who read that online stuff (as do their family and friends who in turn whisper in their ears)--and of course there's the accompanying ongoing pressure from all those OTHER programs going after them.
Recruiting MAY just be another area where this Coach starts well but doesn't FINISH strongly, doesn't quite close the deal.
The jury is still out.
But you TOO have seen the latest evidence.
Are YOU "satisfied"--or even particularly "optimistic"?
I am willing to BET that, at BEST, you are currently "reserving judgment"--waiting to see how a number of these very issues, currently "in the balance", actually resolve themselves.
And in that you are hardly alone.
Let me ask you this:
How much will YOU take?
How long will YOU make excuses, if not for the Coach himself then for the cabal that installs and continues to monitor his relative "progress"--and will eventually make the ultimate decision resulting in any change?
Is there a "conscious point" where YOU will call for that change--or at least support them if/when THEY MAKE IT?
Just for the record, I'M not "there" yet either;
I AM somewhat worried though--on the EDGE, peering over the yawning chasm of "the long road back" should this thing tip the wrong way from here--We are clinging to a sheer wall, "The Promised Land" up there above us on this difficult climb, and that fall a mistake/mistep-or-two more from being our fate.
It does not matter what we think--Billy Napier is going to be the head coach until 2026, maybe 2025.

My personal opinion is that Napier is not going to win a championship at Florida, but he is the best coach for the Florida program right now. He is exactly what Florida needs if we are ever going to win a championship in the next decade. I would ask anyone to offer up the name of a realistic coaching hire who could win at national championship at Florida with this 2023 team. How about 2024? 2025? It cannot be done because Muschamp, McElwain, and Mullen allowed the program to further deteriorate. Meyer started the damage when he retired, unretired, and returned as a lesser version of himself. That is 12-13 years of damage to the foundation of the program that needs to be fixed before the program can win with flashy offense and steady defense.
 

DRU2012

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
It does not matter what we think--Billy Napier is going to be the head coach until 2026, maybe 2025.

My personal opinion is that Napier is not going to win a championship at Florida, but he is the best coach for the Florida program right now. He is exactly what Florida needs if we are ever going to win a championship in the next decade. I would ask anyone to offer up the name of a realistic coaching hire who could win at national championship at Florida with this 2023 team. How about 2024? 2025? It cannot be done because Muschamp, McElwain, and Mullen allowed the program to further deteriorate. Meyer started the damage when he retired, unretired, and returned as a lesser version of himself. That is 12-13 years of damage to the foundation of the program that needs to be fixed before the program can win with flashy offense and steady defense.
I can see, understand, agree and above all ACCEPT your thesis here vis-a-vis Billy N.:
"Gone by 2026. Won't win a Natty, but just what we needed/need-for-now at UF after all those various predecessors had done to dig this hole.
And the lack of some "super-alternative/ replacement", as much or MORE even than that contract, is for the moment the largest impediment (or, if you like, his largest current protection) from firing.
I worry about losing too much more of this (hopefully still, if barely) "elite" 2024 recruiting class, and (more than ever) closing the deal AND (with a slew of big-program Coaches' firings) hitting a homer in this soon-to-be burgeoning 2024 transfer portal, but over and above all that I am sick of hanging off each day's rumors and surprises.
For the moment Billy's our guy. He ain't perfect...
THAT guy wasn't/ISN'T available!
I hope he does a few of the things he really NEEDS TO DO (positive change at OC and on Special Teams would be a strong start). "We'll just have to SEE" with all the rest.
 

DRU2012

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
(...But I will WELCOME that "flashy offense and solid defense" you imply will eventually be once again our lot come "the NEXT GUY"...You know:
The one who will inherit a much stronger, more confidently composed and functioning program and take it "the rest of the way"?)
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
I can see, understand, agree and above all ACCEPT your thesis here vis-a-vis Billy N.:
"Gone by 2026. Won't win a Natty, but just what we needed/need-for-now at UF after all those various predecessors had done to dig this hole.
And tgs la k of some "super-alternative/ replacement", as much or MORE even than that contract, is for the moment the largest impediment (or, if you like, his largest current protection) from firing.
I worry about losing too much more of this (hopefully still, if barely) "elite" 2024 recruiting class, and (more than ever) closing the deal AND (with a slew of big-program Coaches' firings) hitting a homer in this soon-to-be burgeoning 2024 transfer portal, but over and above all that I am sick of hanging off each day's rumors and surprises.
For the moment Billy's our guy. He ain't perfect...
THAT guy wasn't/ISN'T available!
I hope he does a few of the things he really NEEDS TO DO (positive change at OC and on Special Teams would be a strong start). "We'll just have to SEE" with all the rest.

You have to look at the big picture. Florida has shown that it is always capable of hiring a coach who will win 10 games just in time to earn a contract extension, but that is not sufficient for building a winning program. Will Muschamp went 11-2 in his second year in 2012, but few of us looked at that team and thought he had restored the glory of Urban Meyer or Steve Spurrier. Jim McElwain went 10-4 in his first year in 2015, but nobody was thinking that he was building anything good. Dan Mullen went 10-3 and 11-2 in his first two years of 2018 and 2019, and looked to be the one to restore the Gator Standard until he basically quit in 2020 and sleepwalked through 2021. The UF administration realized that winning 10 games is not important to building a program. We as fans need to stop looking at wins and losses for now and try to understand that there is more to a football program than winning 10 games. I have mentioned many times that Napier needs to be compared to Charley Pell, who basically abandoned the idea of winning games until he completely overhauled the program...the program, not the team. The core of the team was basically the same in 1979 and 1980 but it went from 0-10-1 to 8-4.

Check out some snippets from this article: . The takeaway below is that it takes one kind of coach to build or rebuild a program. Now, we have to add some context here because Charley Pell "took some shortcuts" to success, but those shortcuts are now legal and encouraged in today's NIL era. To clarify: the modern NIL rules were intended to "decriminalize" athletes generating revenue but it really opened the door to investors dumping increasing amounts of cash into football programs. Charley Pell had investors dumping cash into the Florida program and fans paying players before NIL made both of those legal and encouraged.

"They still filled the stadium every week," former Times-Union sports editor David Lamm said. "I'll always give credit to Florida fans for supporting the team that year. And the media was more than willing to give Charley Pell a honeymoon period because we knew how tough is was for him to rebuild the program.

Carlson said Pell confessed something to him years later: He might not have been 100 percent focused on the Xs and Os during the spring and summer practices leading to the 1979 season. Instead, Pell devoted a lot of time to raising money to upgrade Florida's football facilities.

"There were a lot of things that needed upgrading - the weight room, the football dorm, the training table - Charley realized it had to be done for the good of the program's future," Carlson said.

Pell secured huge commitments from Ben Hill Griffin and Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's, whose daughter was going to Florida. Pell went to every Gator Booster Club function he could. Players and others close to the program said Pell sowed the seeds for lasting success.

A frequent comment Pell made to the media is that a football program couldn't compete on a national level, "with second-rate weight rooms and the players eating second-rate food and sleeping on cots."

"I'm not sure that Charley Pell gets enough credit, to this day, for what he started," Collinsworth said. "Coach Pell worked on raising the money to give future teams what we didn't have."
All that to say, Napier is focused on rebuilding a broken program. He might never win a national championship, but Florida absolutely needs him to fix all the inner workings of the program before he can focus on winning 10 games a season just to make the fans happy. Unlike Pell, Napier is doing this rebuild at a time when all of Florida's rivals are firing on all cylinders or are on the rise. Pell's only powerful rivals were Georgia and Miami, plus the occasional Auburn back when they were a big rival.
 

DRU2012

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
You have to look at the big picture. Florida has shown that it is always capable of hiring a coach who will win 10 games just in time to earn a contract extension, but that is not sufficient for building a winning program. Will Muschamp went 11-2 in his second year in 2012, but few of us looked at that team and thought he had restored the glory of Urban Meyer or Steve Spurrier. Jim McElwain went 10-4 in his first year in 2015, but nobody was thinking that he was building anything good. Dan Mullen went 10-3 and 11-2 in his first two years of 2018 and 2019, and looked to be the one to restore the Gator Standard until he basically quit in 2020 and sleepwalked through 2021. The UF administration realized that winning 10 games is not important to building a program. We as fans need to stop looking at wins and losses for now and try to understand that there is more to a football program than winning 10 games. I have mentioned many times that Napier needs to be compared to Charley Pell, who basically abandoned the idea of winning games until he completely overhauled the program...the program, not the team. The core of the team was basically the same in 1979 and 1980 but it went from 0-10-1 to 8-4.

Check out some snippets from this article: . The takeaway below is that it takes one kind of coach to build or rebuild a program. Now, we have to add some context here because Charley Pell "took some shortcuts" to success, but those shortcuts are now legal and encouraged in today's NIL era. To clarify: the modern NIL rules were intended to "decriminalize" athletes generating revenue but it really opened the door to investors dumping increasing amounts of cash into football programs. Charley Pell had investors dumping cash into the Florida program and fans paying players before NIL made both of those legal and encouraged.






All that to say, Napier is focused on rebuilding a broken program. He might never win a national championship, but Florida absolutely needs him to fix all the inner workings of the program before he can focus on winning 10 games a season just to make the fans happy. Unlike Pell, Napier is doing this rebuild at a time when all of Florida's rivals are firing on all cylinders or are on the rise. Pell's only powerful rivals were Georgia and Miami, plus the occasional Auburn back when they were a big rival.
I read and appreciated it All--INCLUDING the accompanying Pell article: Hell, I was THERE for the Pell-arrival (my sophomore year), and the subsequent "0-10-1" to "8-4" seasons!
How and/or exactly WHEN (IF?) it will truly succeed as projected here is a whole other question, of course--but I ACCEPT the idea that it (the general path) was the only way we were going to get "back on track"--that is, somehow to find ourselves once more on that road to balance, progress and eventual annual bigtime success: the kind that ultimately and regularly competes for CHAMPIONSHIPS.
So he WILL get at least a couple more seasons; but what then? Will that be enough? And if not, will there BE enough money, patience and/or "fingers-in-the-dike"? And just out here alone in the wilderness, just between US, are there any potential "saviors" (the one who TAKES us that last bit-of-the-way), besides Kerwin of course, actually on the horizon as of yet?
Time will tell, about ALL of the above snd MORE, I suppose...
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
I read and appreciated it All--INCLUDING the accompanying Pell article: Hell, I was THERE for the Pell-arrival (my sophomore year), and the subsequent "0-10-1" to "8-4" seasons!
How and/or exactly WHEN (IF?) it will truly succeed as projected here is a whole other question, of course--but I ACCEPT the idea that it (the general path) was the only way we were going to get "back on track"--that is, somehow to find ourselves once more on that road to balance, progress and eventual annual bigtime success: the kind that ultimately and regularly competes for CHAMPIONSHIPS.
So he WILL get at least a couple more seasons; but what then? Will that be enough? And if not, will there BE enough money, patience and/or "fingers-in-the-dike"? And just out here alone in the wilderness, just between US, are there any potential "saviors" (the one who TAKES us that last bit-of-the-way), besides Kerwin of course, actually on the horizon as of yet?
Time will tell, about ALL of the above snd MORE, I suppose...
The coaching landscape does not look very good right now, not in college nor the NFL. If I had to call a shot for a savior to pick up where Napier leaves off, especially an alumnus who uses a modernized Fun N’ Gun, there are two: Jedd Fisch and Kerwin Bell.
 

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