“Napier has probably lost the fan base before a game is played.”

Tough times in Gainesville:

If you’re not a die-hard and missed the mess that’s happened with Florida’s 2023 recruiting class as June winds down, here’s a cliff notes rundown of events involving lots of UF’s marquee targets:

  • 5-star cornerback AJ Harris, long considered a Gators lean, cancelled a scheduled official visit to Florida and committed to Georgia.
  • 5-star safety Tony Mitchell ended a long flirtation with Florida by naming a final four that did not include the Gators and promptly committed to Alabama the next day.
  • 4-star defensive lineman Gavin Hill, a local standout at Buchholz High, committed to Florida.
  • 4-star offensive lineman Roderick Kearney verbally committed to archival Florida State less than half an hour after leaving his official visit with the Gators.
  • 4-star linebacker Grayson Howard, an in-state prospect from Jacksonville, committed to South Carolina over Florida despite making multiple visits to Gainesville in June.
  • Florida is also considered to be losing traction with top targets like 5-star cornerback Cormani McClain (a UF-Alabama-Miami battle) and 4-star tailback Treyaun Webb, a Gators legacy from Jacksonville who many wrote in his name in pen for the 2023 class but is now seen as a Penn State lean.
  • And the coup de grace: 4-star quarterback Jaden Rashada, who was seen as a UF lock for weeks before delaying his decision and committing to Miami on Sunday. Rashada, a Top 50 prospect, was seen as the future face of Napier’s first full-recruiting cycle. Elite quarterback prospects are like Tik Tok influencers and the expectation was Rashada would commit to the Gators and then other top-flight prospects would instantly flock to Gainesville, too.

So much for Plan A.  Maybe Plan B, too.

Recruiting is so much about optics and narrative, and right now, UF is holding a losing hand. Regardless of what exactly is happening behind the scenes within the various Florida-associated collectives, publicly, there’s now the notion that the Gators simply aren’t as organized or attractive as Miami or Florida State — much less Georgia, Alabama or others.

That’s a problem.

Billy Napier was hired by Florida precisely because he could do what his predecessor could not: Recruit at an elite level. Dan Mullen won at least 10 games in his first two seasons at UF, but Year 3 fell off a cliff because Mullen failed to restock the roster with the requisite talent compared to Florida’s SEC rivals.

In stepped Napier, who demanded and was handed “an army” of support staffers and recruiting analysts — rivaling similar staffs at UGA, Alabama and Texas A&M. The charismatic and confident 42-year-old former Louisiana-Lafayette head coach came to Gainesville preaching patience and vision, and then underpromised but overdelivered during his first Early Signing Period — namely beating out the Bulldogs for 5-star IMG Academy safety Kamari Wilson.

He teased the possibility that Florida could become a recruiting power again, especially in a Sunshine State full of flux with a fellow new regime in a Miami and a coach in Tallahassee entering a put-up-or-shut-up season.

“This is a talent acquisition business,” Billy Napier said when he was hired.

Flash forward six months, and the Gators don’t have a single Top 150 prospect among their eight commits.

Well, what do you expect, Gator fans?  First year coaches usually have a rough time putting together their first class.  Just look at how much Kirby Smart struggled with his… oh, wait.

I expect “it’s still early” is going to get a heavy workout, but if Billy can’t squeeze out nine wins this season (remember, Mullen surpassed that number his first season), the wolves are gonna be howlin’.

Dave Chappelle Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

39 responses to ““Napier has probably lost the fan base before a game is played.”

  1. whit1356


    Liked by 3 people

  2. 81Dog

    After reading this, I’m mildly aroused. FTMF.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Godawg

    Some shit you just can’t make up.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. David D

    I woke up this morning after a restless/sleepless night. Have Zoom meetings at work all day with PowerPoints and a monotone presenter. My back hurts and I’m on a diet which has sucked the last ounce of energy out of me. The wife’s car needs a new tranny and our 401(k)s are in the shitter. The world seems to be in chaos and there’s probably a large asteroid headed towards our planet.

    Then I read this.
    It’s gonna be a great day!

    Liked by 23 people

  5. Hogbody Spradlin

    Tough enchiladas Billy.


  6. paulwesterdawg

    When he hired Rob Sale and the strength coach that failed so miserably here I felt like we had a shot at seeing something truly terrible down there.

    Liked by 5 people

    • siskey

      I don’t remember the strength coach and after the whole JT 2 deal and what the administration would commit to Richt it was hard to blame that on one coach. Sale presided over one of the worst O-Lines we have ever had. Sale does have help as Napier hired another coach for those positions so maybe that guy can make them mediocre.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ole Dokes

    Wonder how that good looking yankee gal/recruiting expert Napier “stole” from Kirby is enjoying her stay in Gainesville…dare I posit she’s an plant?…

    Liked by 8 people

  8. cowetadawg

    Reality is a bitch, Gators. Make some new friends at the North Avenue Trade School and they’ll tell you all about it. You’re welcome.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. It’s not just that Florida’s flailing on the recruiting trail, it’s the “Oh god, what if this is who we were all along?” garment-rending it’s causing amongst the Gator fan base. The Spurrier/Meyer years are looking more and more like the exception rather than the rule.

    Liked by 8 people

  10. One of the posters known as Mark

    Hmmm, I remember that early in the year, a Georgia football recruiting staffer left to work in Florida’s recruiting machinery.

    It seems Agent Muschamp’s successor is on the job…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dawgfan1995

    When you shop at the coaching version of a discount store (think Ross or T.J. Maxx) to try to find your version of Kirby Smart, the best you’re going to find are knock-offs, things that didn’t sell because no one wanted them, and returned items.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Texas Dawg

    Apparently, that flaming dumpster that had been at Tennessee with a stop in Auburn is now firmly entrenched in Hogtown.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. practicaldawg

    The parallels with Tennessee’s death spiral are getting too hard to ignore. Each coach starts with his body a foot deeper in quick sand than his predecessor.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. rigger92

    I’m here all day long for the immature treatment of Mullen but Billy doesn’t move the needle much for me yet.

    It is fun to see that FU has a growing image/marketing problem.


    • siskey

      The part about this that is most interesting is that Napier is yet another coach from the Saban tree. He even has the benefit of also being with Dabo (before they were good but still). And every article makes reference that due to his past association with Saban he knows how to get it done and “get the right pieces in place”, “evaluate talent”, etc.
      We are almost 20 years deep in the Saban tree and only Kirby (who was there the longest) and Jimbo (who was never at Bama but was at LSU during the early years) has had any success.
      The list of coaches who were Saban guys who failed (at least as measured against Saban) is long and even includes assistants who left to be assistants elsewhere like Key at Tech, Sunseri at Tennessee and others. It seems like the way to go may be to not hire Saban assistants unless you are hiring Kirby Smart. Glad that we knew that all those years ahead of the curve.


      • rigger92

        Very true. I’ve wondered what it is that makes CKS virtually the only Saban assistant that has managed to build a top tier program. I mean, in the business world people get hired away all the time to replicate success in new organizations, don’t they? Isn’t it fairly straightforward? Is Kiffin just purposely trying not to build up his program? I suppose a lot of it is institutional support too but seems to me Ole Miss would rather contend for titles than not and support Lane with everything he needs.


        • siskey

          As it relates to Kirby it may just be that he was the right guy at the right place. I think that he was there for so long that maybe he “learned” more from Saban and that because he took over here a place that he was very familiar with in an area that he had recruited since he first started coaching that it was a more seamless transition.


  15. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2021)

    This was amazing. Thank you for sharing, Senator.

    The perfect humpday pick-me-up!


    • Down Island Way

      Will FU fan unload their tickets or even show up on oct. 29th, 3:30 in the afternoon, knowing full well they’ll be leaving shortly after the 3rd quarter starts…IT’S GREAT, TO BE, A GEORGIA BULLDOG, IT’S GREAT, TO BE, A GEORGIA BULLDOG……

      Liked by 1 person

  16. moe pritchett

    Only time will know for sure, but suspicion leads that perhaps LSU may have been a better home for young William and FU a better place for MR Kelly.
    Two years of play will yield the answer.
    Knowing Billy and his family like I do, I hate to see it for him personally. But this is the deep end of the pool.


  17. nightnthebox

    lol… gators

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Waiting for Spurrier to witness Fall camp and make his usual snarky comment to preserve his legacy.


  19. theoriginalspike

    Pardon me while I have a cigarette and stare at the ceiling a while..

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I honestly didn’t think we’d see a day that a coach was on the hotseat before coaching his very first game, but here we are.

    Harsin on the seat after 1 season on the plains, Napier on the seat simply after recruiting losses (imagine once the real losses start in Week 2…)

    You simply hate to see it, you really do. FTMF

    Liked by 3 people

  21. 69Dawg

    The state of Florida, where a minority are actually life long UF fans, has started to cycle to the U. The new U coach is seen as a savior and until he trips up, the U will get the most causal fans. This cuts UF off from south Florida where the most talent is located. The worst thing to happen to the Gator’s is the abundance of Group of 5 teams and UCF headed to the Big12/14. The Gators used to get the best walkon’s in Florida, now they have to wait for 255 instate Division I scholarships to be filled before there are any walkon’s to be had. This makes a world of difference. Their scout teams can’t begin to show the starters the opposing teams speed etc. Heck it was hard for them to field two teams for the spring game. If FSU can turn it around UF will be scratching and clawing for D1 talent from now on, barring cheating on NIL inducements. Remember one of the reasons UF was good before SOS was they cheated with the best of them. They just happen to get caught a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. owensborodawg

    My goodness, every time I think this year has seen its best days, something like this comes along and I find myself wondering, “What did we do to deserve such gifts?” I have been following Georgia football since hearing Munson on the radio on autumn afternoons in the late 1960’s. Varsity chili dogs and West End Zone tickets were all we needed back in the day. Junkyard Dawgs and Silver Britches and having UGA in the fiber of my bones are essential to my being.

    However, the past year is unlike anything ever in my life. The season, the championship, recruiting, this board, our enemies vanquished before our pillaging hordes day after day…..I’ve quit wondering if it will ever end and am simply enjoying the ride.

    And to repeat the wonderful acronym stated above: FTMF!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. uga97

    Time for The Portal Maestro(TM) to get cranking.