Napier aware of fine line between innovation and risk

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One of the toughest things to do in just about any field is to remain on the cutting edge of the latest developments in creative problem-solving.

In college football, coaches have been exposed to a complete sea change on multiple different fronts over the past several years. From the introduction of an Early Signing Period and the changes that brought about to the recruiting calendar, to the onslaught of the NCAA transfer portal, to the loopholes and wrinkles coaches now have to sort out when it comes to name, image and likeness (NIL ) reform.

There’s a ton to figure out in a short period of time.

One thing new Florida coach billy napper has tried to do in his fledgling head coaching career is always be open to new ideas. Even if many of them ultimately get scrapped.

“There’s a lot (that do),” Napier said with a wry smile recently. “I mean, heck, I think that applies to everything that we do. I mean part of the deal is making mistakes, right?”

While that may be true for Napier, it’s not necessarily a default position for everyone. For many it’s easier to continue sticking with what used to work rather than attempt to innovate and get out in front.

That’s not Napier.

But he’s also not unaware of the potential pitfalls of focusing too much on trying to be cutting edge.

“I think if you, how would I say this… I think if you’re experimental, there’s a fine line in there between being really efficient and having some risk, right?” he said. “You’ve got to be willing to try new things and be experimental, but you’ve also always got to be quality controlling how efficient you are. But we want a setting where you can try some things, but also we’re always evaluating the efficiency of things. I think that’s been ongoing from the very beginning. I think it’s constantly evolving.”

In other words, Napier wants plenty of feedback and input on everything they’re doing in the program. The staff ultimately may not opt ​​to try out every suggestion someone brings to the table, but the idea is to at least explore all possibilities.

Once you have an idea of ​​the different ways you can attack something, you can attempt to pick the best one. Even if it doesn’t work, you can quickly pivot to something else.

A lot of that comes down to trust, of course. You have to believe in the people around you in order to value their opinions.

“We hired them to do a job. They’ve done it well in the past,” Napier said. “Whether or not they’ll do it well this year we’ll see. But we’ve got a really good group and I’m confident, and I’m more every day that we get settled in we start establishing our process and our systems, I’m even more impressed with the people we’ve hired.”

Many have worked with Napier before. Some have not. For the ones who haven’t, picking up on the culture of ideas and outside-the-box thinking Napier wants to spouse will be key.

Fitting everything together once all the ideas are presented… that’s Napier’s job. With a staff the size he’s assembled, there should be no shortage of ideas and potential plans to sort through.

“I think the key here is that we establish trust, we’ve got confidence in each other, we work well together,” Napier said. “This is very much the sum of the dynamic parts we live in. We’re talking not just about those 10 (on-field) coaches, right? We’ve got probably 250 people that contribute to whether or not we have success, all the way from the head coach to the manager that’s setting up the four-cone drill today.

“We’ve got a lot of people that can contribute to our success. It’s important we all respect each role and that we all realize that we can impact the final result.”

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