Football: Ragin' Cajuns coach Napier addresses job status at UL + extensive photo gallery
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Dec. 7, 2019
Click here and scroll down for the Coach Napier photo gallery (128).
BOONE, N.C. — It could always change.
But after losing 45-38 to No. 20 Appalachian State in Saturday's Sun Belt Conference championship game, making UL 0-8 all-time against the Mountaineers and 0-4 under his command, Ragin' Cajuns coach Billy Napier did not sound like a man going anywhere but back to Louisiana.
"It's the nature of the business, if you're having success. ... We're not done, though. That's what I would say," Napier said of his name being floated for various job openings.
"When you're having success and there are other opportunities out there, it's a part of the profession, right? But our success is a result of a lot of people doing it the right way and working really hard. We've got a tremendous staff. We've got a great chemistry amongst our players; we've got tremendous support from our administration."
When Saturday's game kicked off, Cajuns athletic director Bryan Maggard watched, believing he had done everything possible to make sure the Cajuns do not lose its coach.
Maggard feels UL has positioned itself to retain Napier, who coached the 10-3 bowl-bound Cajuns to a second straight Sun Belt West Division championship.
In fact, Maggard said when asked Saturday morning if he anticipated losing Napier and his staff, he said, “I really don’t.”
If UL does, it would only be because it’s beyond anything the Cajuns can control.
UL extended Napier’s contract by a year earlier this year, and Maggard said the Cajuns are “quite a ways” along and “in good shape” on multi-year contract deals for each of his 10 assistants.
UL coach Billy Napier works the sideline during Saturday's Sun Belt title game at No. 20 Appalachian State. (Photo: Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports)
The work on those began much earlier this season.
Asked if UL would be willing to renegotiate his contract and bump Napier’s pay if that is what it takes to keep him, Maggard said, “certainly we’ll figure out what we need to do to make sure that the coach remains our coach.”
“But, at the same time,” he added, “if certain opportunities present themselves that he would certainly be interested in, then so be it,” he added. “But all I know if that we’re focused on keeping that entire crew intact right now.”
Napier has been listed on the "potential" candidates list for multiple job openings, including Ole Miss (which reportedly is hiring Florida Atlantic's Lane Kiffin), Arkansas, Missouri, Florida State, Colorado State and even Boston College. He's also been mentioned as a potential candidate at Memphis, which reportedly is losing Mike Norvell to Florida State.
Sun Belt title game breakdown: UL vs. Appalachian State
Napier also was rumored to be headed to Mississippi State at one point, but that proved false as the Bulldogs opted to retain coach Joe Moorhead after their Egg Bowl win over Ole Miss.
Napier denied a rumor that he had met with officials from Arkansas a day after UL’s win over Troy late last month, calling it “completely false,” and said at that time that neither he nor his agent had spoken with anyone.
As of Saturday, Napier was believed to have no interest in the Arkansas or Missouri jobs.
Whether or not that changes remains to be seen.
Maggard said he had no knowledge of Napier or his agent talking with another program or its search firm, something he would consider a “professional courtesy.”
“All this talk about Coach is a credit to the body of work — those 11 men, and many others,” Maggard said of Napier and his staff of assistants. “What they’ve done this year, and really over the past two years.
“So it’s really not surprising. We’re probably gonna hear this type of talk each and every year, because of the great job that they’ve done and the quality of coaches that they are.
“My sights are on continuing to move this program forward with Coach Napier’s leadership,” Maggard added, “and I think we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.”
“Before all the talk started to happen, we started to work on multi-year contracts (for his staff). We’re just going to continue to find ways to invest in our football program, and try to keep this whole crew intact.
“Because I believe in continuity. I believe in consistency," Maggard added. "And I know Coach does as well, and he’d be the first to tell you his success really derives from being surrounded by great people, and he’s put together a great staff.”
Napier, in fact, did suggest just that after Saturday's loss.
"We live in the one of the best places in the world to live, in Lafayette, Louisiana, and I think when these decisions come up, you evaluate all those things -- quality of life for your family, the people you work for, the leadership above you that you trust in, and certainly what you think you are capable of," Napier said. "And I think we're capable of big things in Lafayette, at the University of Louisiana."