Herm Edwards was hired with the intention of retaining the remaining staff leftover from Todd Graham’s time at Arizona State.
That isn’t exactly going according to plan.
Just days after defensive coordinator Phil Bennett announced he’d be leaving ASU, 247Sports’ Chris Karpman reported Thursday that offensive coordinator/associate head coach Billy Napier has been offered the head coaching position at Louisiana-Lafayette.
ULL recently fired Mark Hudspeth, who compiled a 28-38 record (21-19 in Sun Belt Conference games) in 7 seasons at the helm of the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Napier was recently promoted to associate head coach and given a new, 2-year contract after Edwards’ hiring. Athletic director Ray Anderson indicated he hoped to keep the rising coordinator (and the since-departed Bennett) in Tempe for at least 2018 under Edwards, who has since turned to targeting Texas Tech’s David Gibbs for his defensive coordinator position. He might have to open his scope wider for the opposite side of the ball.
Napier coached wide receivers at Alabama for 5 years (with a 1-year stop at Colorado State in 2012 wedged between his Alabama stints) before joining Graham’s staff at Arizona State. His retention, along with the rest of the offensive staff, was seen as an important decision for program stabilization, a priority that includes the program’s desire to avoid forcing quarterback Manny Wilkins to play under 3 different offensive coordinators in 3 seasons. That could be unavoidable should Napier accept the offer.
A pay boost would be an obvious lure for Napier, as well as a return to the southeastern United States, where Napier has plenty of experience with the Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers. This, from Karpman, offers additional context:
Hudspeth was reportedly making $1,150,000 annually at the time of his dismissal. Louisiana-Lafayette has extended a five-year offer to Napier, per a source.
Napier reportedly made $550,000 in his first year with the Sun Devils, 12th highest among Pac-12 assistant coaches at public universities that disclose such information.
Napier stabilized an offense that finished 40th in the nation in scoring in 2016, bringing it to the same ranking with slightly less total points (400 to 383) in 2017. Anderson saw enough evidence of improvement in the Sun Devils’ 5-2 finish, though, to speak glowingly of Napier during the coaching change process.
He might soon be introducing a new assistant in what has become an unexpectedly tumultuous change in leadership.
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