By Courtney Bergeron
A new chapter is beginning in Lafayette as Billy Napier has started his first season as head coach of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Football team. Before this new adventure, Napier has been a part of several successful football programs including Arizona State, Colorado State and the University of Alabama. But now, he is taking on his biggest challenge yet: leading a team of his own.
Under Napier’s unique coaching style, the team will have a chance to grow and develop an identity of their own. “We’ve got a good group of players who have bought into the culture that we’re trying to establish,” said Napier.
One of Napier’s main mantras for the team is the “The Journey Starts Here.” But what exactly does “the journey” entail? According to Napier, it’s one of the core aspects of his program. The journey involves representing the University and the football team with a first-class approach.
The journey is the team’s integrity, discipline, toughness, togetherness, and impact that they want to have on the community. It is about how these players represent themselves as people and not only about how well they play on Saturday nights.
“It’s the dynamic that when our players leave, they have their education and a network of people around them,” said Napier.
Throughout his career, Napier has worked alongside of and played for coaches that have formed him into the coach that he is now. Leaders like Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Tommy Bowden, Buddy Pough, Todd Graham, and Jim McElwain have all made an impact on Napier’s life.
“I’m a conglomeration of all of those guys,” said Napier. With heaps of wisdom from all these role models, Napier is setting himself up for success and for creating some wisdom of his own. As the new coach takes on the season, he’s excited about the challenges and opportunities that await.
Throughout their offseason, he’s worked toward establishing a quality staff, developing their players, and improving the team’s overall roster. “We’ve established expectations, and I’ve got even more conviction about the success we can have in Lafayette with this program,” said Napier.
As the countdown begins to the opening game, Napier and his team will be hard at work doing what they do best: playing football. With so much unknown for the upcoming season, one thing remains certain – Coach Napier’s journey in Lafayette is just beginning.