by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
As the LSU head coaching wheel turns, names being inserted as quickly as they are withdrawn, vengeful or ridiculous denials from Steelers' Head Coach Mike Tomlin & Penn State impresario James Franklin, with a pissed off Tomlin declaring "there isn't a booster with a big enough check book"...meanwhile, Franklin just pissed all over himself.
It's been semi exhausting stuff, perhaps this is why I caught this cold?
There's been a bunch of names....some ridiculous, others curious, and many in play:
Serious names such as Carolina's Matt Rhule have been introduced, a man who delivered Temple Football's first conference title in 50 years, a program builder who's set up success everywhere he's gone.....following Art Briles' degradation is no easy feat, and he did it by changing a hideous culture....which, it turns out, surprise surprise, equals winning games....
Carolina's Offensive Coordinator is also under the satellite eyes:
Would Joe Brady be able to contractually phase out his recruiting obligations just enough to make his first head coaching job "the right gig" for his more pro-friendly approach?
Well, there's one name that definitely stands out among the early bunch:
Louisiana-Lafayette Rajun Cajuns Head Coach Billy Napier.
While Brady may be impossible or even inexperienced, Kiffin seems too much of a hot head, & Tucker's achievements could be downgraded due to being in the Big 10, Napier stands out as a steady hand.
A Saban-esque program-builder who's been at various high profile gigs, from Alabama to Clemson, the 2x National Champion assistant took on the ULL Rajun Cajuns job for two reasons:
The Tennessee native loved Louisiana and he wanted to build something special.
Well, after 4 years at his inaugural head coaching job, Billy hasn't just established a special program at Louisiana-Lafayette, he's also endeared himself to the hearts of most local football recruits & their families, as well as earning the long-standing faith of Louisiana's entire statewide high school coaching network.
And then there's going to be those people from the good ol' boy network who will never be on board with a Napier hire, those blunt instrument sadists who only expect Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher or James Franklin will get it done....
Those are the same people who made Les Miles one of the highest paid coaches in America...do we trust them?
I don't trust them, I trust Scott Woodward.
Most of the voices doubting Napier can't tell you the role he had with Alabama, coaching up one of their greatest ever WR corps, they can't tell you when he was at Clemson....all they know is University of Louisiana....Lafayette....with a hyphen.....and that hyphen immediately gives you two strikes to start with.
Luckily Woodward won't be as foolish as some others have been, overlooking the right hires and simply shooting for the biggest.....
Scotty will pick the coach who makes the most sense for LSU....right?
Scott Woodward can't blow this, could he?
He could....if he picks James Franklin....if he hires Jimbo Fisher.....if he goes all out for any of the bizarre, untenable names that were recently thrown at the wall, from Urban Meyer to Nick Dias' shocking Brady Hoke pick.
But I don't see Woody failing here....
If he chose Napier, and Billy went 8-4 in his first season, things could turn nasty as the "I told you so" people mount their furious steeds and light their sabres with the blood of their sanctimony. While patience may be required with Napier's first season, at least we know there's no secret to what the man is about or where he's headed:
Picking Napier is an immediate choice for stability, a program-building for championships, and most of all: a renewed culture facelift....all with a hyper focus on winning the recruiting wars year in and year out: not only in finally sealing Louisiana's top talent to LSU and LSU alone, the future of Louisiana State Football is about being able to establish the purple & gold brand nationally under the relentless energy of a new Head Coach.......and that man for LSUODYSSEY.COM is Billy Napier.
Anyone who's witnessed Napier lead a press conference, talk to his players after a win or a defeat, those local Louisiana families who've become very familiar with the man's work at University Louisiana-Lafayette, they all love him.......in fact, I remember hearing many parents say "I wish Napier was the head coach at LSU" back in 2020....or even Orgeron loyalists admitting "if O wasn't the guy, I want Napier."
Louisiana has been studying Billy carefully, at a close angle and from a distance, wondering when he was going to take that big time Power 5 job....waiting for the moment he ascends to that next rung on the ladder of college football.....
Although, perhaps he's been waiting for the LSU gig all along....
If Scott Woodward is looking for a Head Coach with a certified stamp of approval from the greats, Napier is the man; If Scott Woodward demands a lead man with a proven pedigree as an SEC Head Coach, Napier may have some questions to answer there, but to pretend as if Billy hasn't coached for high stakes is preposterous.
Many will cry that "he's not ready", but I think Napier can do the job....right now....
Yes that's right....I'm backing Napier's ability to lead the LSU program....however, this decision isn't mine, nor is it yours:
It's Scott Woodward's choice....and he is not only a buddy of Billy's, he's also a supporter and ally of the 2019 Sun Belt Head Coach of The Year.
Napier, a Tennessee-native, could very well be a dark horse candidate for this job nationally, but for many inside Louisiana, he is the man for the headset:
Winning two titles during a pair of stints at Alabama (2011 as an analyst, 2013-2016 coaching Alabama WRs), Billy recruited and developed such top tier NFL-level talents as Amari Cooper, Christion Jones, Cam Sims, Calvin Ridley and Ardarius Stewart.
Billy had a variety of roles at Clemson throughout a couple of stretches, making a short, but key impact on their gradual rise as perennial college football titans.
From 2006-2008, Napier served as Clemson's Tight Ends and Recruiting Coordinator. Then, in 2009 at the age of 29, Napier became the youngest Offensive Coordinator in program history.
In addition to the OC title, Napier also served as QBs Coach that next season, narrowly losing in the ACC title game while helping to develop running back C.J Spiller. In the end, Swinney fired the inexperienced Napier to save his job.
After his final Alabama stint, he headed out West:
At Arizona State in 2017, Napier was once again the Offensive Coordinator, guiding their successful unit to a 31.8 points per game average, while ASU's offense also ripped off 431 yards each Saturday.
I get the trepidation to outsiders....
He hasn't coached Miami....
He didn't coach Penn State....nor was Napier the head coach at any other Power 5 school.....because he hasn't been given the chance yet.
Look what he's done with ULL's players....look at what he's done at Alabama under Saban, a Head Coach who swears by him....listening to the other rival Head Coaches around the country, the one guy they're afraid of leading the ship at LSU?
Billy F***in "Napalm" Napier........
Question the decision, if it happens, all you want, however it'll take only minutes for the assembled purple & gold masses to find out he has the right mentality to take the infrastructure, resources and high octane personnel in place to a level he's never been before....and one LSU hasn't been to in such a long time: stability as title contenders.
The man wouldn't be alone in these pursuits, coaching alongside a host of other talented staff members who can definitely help Billy settle into his new role:
Retaining roster wiz GM Austin Thomas and recruiting prodigy Mason Smith to the LSU staff, Athletic Director Scott Woodward should also look to keep longtime Tiger assistants DBs Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Corey Raymond, WRs Coach Mickey Joseph & Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon, all of whom are not only certifiably electric coaches in their trade, they're also Grade A recruiters.
Among the new Orgeron hires from January and February 2021, only OL Coach Brad Davis and DL Chief Andre Carter seem to be staying put, which I would wholeheartedly agree with: In the limited time they've had on campus, coaching upstream against a tidal wave of injuries and absences, both Davis and Carter haven't really put a foot wrong.
Those names, personalities, shared experience, and recruiting work ethic will give Billy Napier most of what he needs to build his staff & roster, emphasizing continuity within the trenches; Plus, he can hire a new offensive coordinator, hire himself, or keep Jake Peetz. There's also a variety of options when it comes to DJ Mangas and whether his continued presence on the staff would be a success.
But there's no doubting it: Napier is in the discussions.
When talking to people who will have a massive impact on LSU's future, I believe there's one name they are all intrigued by....and that's the unbreakable badass vibe of Billy Napier, a man who would bring respect back to the LSU brand, both locally and nationally, a man who understands how to recruit and develop talent with the same hunger and enthusiasm of an early 2000s Ed Orgeron or a 2001 Nick Saban.......a winner.....a player's Coach.....
Sure, no ones saying the man would be taking over as a certified championship Head Coach, still, it is also true that he's been knocking on the door for years now......
If Scott Woodward so chooses, it might just be Billy Napier's time.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
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