LAFAYETTE — The offseason has been an active one for the University of Louisiana football team, in particular for Billy Napier’s coaching staff.
Ragin’ Cajuns offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Rob Sale and cornerbacks coach LaMar Morgan have left this offseason for similar positions with the New York Giants (Sale) and Vanderbilt (Morgan).
Not to mention, linebackers coach Austin Armstrong left to become Southern Mississippi’s defensive coordinator.
Napier, though, doesn’t view the departures from his coaching staff as a bad thing.
“To be honest with you, I’m excited about the things that come with it,” Napier said. “I view it as an opportunity to get better. One of the things that we’ve done here is we’ve hired well.
“When you have a good program and you have a good administration and you’re established,” Napier added. “It’s not different than recruiting young men to come play for you. When you’ve got the program that we’ve developed here, it helps you recruit coaches and hire good coaches as well.”
UL didn’t wait long to find replacements.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have hired former Super Bowl champion and Sam Houston offensive line coach Darnell Stapleton, Florida Atlantic assistant Jeff Norrid, former North Texas and Virginia Tech linebackers coach Galen Scott and former South Florida and Florida Atlantic safeties coach Wes Neighbors.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the people we’ve hired,” Napier said. “I think we’ve got a very established system. The key here is you hire competent people that have character and integrity and that have a sincere care for the players and have a certain level of professionalism and work extremely hard.”
Then there is the addition of former ULM coach Matt Viator, who has been hired as a consultant.
Viator’s lengthy experience in the state is something that Napier is excited to add to the Ragin’ Cajuns staff.
Viator was a high school head coach for a decade at Vinton, Jennings and Sulphur. Viator then spent eight seasons at McNeese as an assistant before taking over as head coach for 10 years.
“I think he’s got 35 years of experience in this state,” Napier said. “He’s going to make our organization better without a doubt.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns have successfully wrapped up the first stage of the offseason program, which Napier refers to as the “Foundation.” The next stage is called “Identity” and that began on Thursday and will last a total of 26 days. The annual Vermilion and White Spring Game is scheduled to take place on April 22.
Even though the Ragin’ Cajuns coaching staff may look different this spring season, Napier once again reiterated that turnover can be a good thing.
“In general, there’s a lot of positives that come from having turnover and having attrition,” Napier said. “That’s a natural part. We’re just fortunate that it’s a result of success. We could be replacing people because they didn’t do a good job.”