Florida Football: Billy Napier's fate will be tied to Russ Callaway

After month of speculation about an offensive coordinator, Florida stays in house

Florida Assistant Tight-end Coach Russ Callaway coaches. The University of Florida Football team
Florida Assistant Tight-end Coach Russ Callaway coaches. The University of Florida Football team / Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK
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For months Florida Football fans have clamored for Billy Napier to hire an offensive coordinator. There was the rumor mill that Willy Korn at Liberty or Brennan Marion at UNLV could be the guy, but no real traction developed and it looked like Napier was still going to be calling plays in 2024.

But after singling earlier in the month he might promote from within, news broke last night that tight ends coach Russ Callaway would indeed become the co-offensive coordinator for the Gators in 2024.

There is plenty of upside to the move. It also means that for better for for worse, Napier's fate at Florida will be decided in part by the move.

Florida Football: Play Calling Duties

Jacob Rudner of 247 Sports broke the news last night that Callaway was going to be promoted by Napier.

The move follows what Napier had indicate was probably going to happen what he was asked about Callaway during his press conference earlier this month.

"I think ultimately, he's a guy that obviously is going to acquire more responsibility"

Billy Napier on Russ Callaway

The upside to Callaway is that during his stint at offensive coordinator with Samford the Bulldogs led FCS in passing yards per game in 2018 and ran a style of offense that should appease Gator fans. He has prior stops at with the New York Giants and LSU.

Callaway was the tight end's coach last season and Arlis Boardingham had a breakout season for the Gators.

This is not a move without risk.

Just so we are clear, we are on board with Napier hiring an offensive coordinator. It's not even whether or not one believes Florida's offense was good or not with Napier calling the plays, it's that the offense wasn't elite enough to justify having Napier call plays while also trying to manage everything else is has to do as a head coach.

But like when he hired Austin Armstrong to be the defensive coordinator, Callaway has zero Power Five experience as a coordinator. Also, we are just going to point out that in the 2021 season, he was with the Giants; they had the second-fewest points in the NFL.

This creates a great unknown for Gator fans that will ultimately decide the fate of Napier in Gainesville.

If the offense continues to go through stretches where it looks pedestrian and either Callaway isn't ready for the job and/or he has the co-offensive coordinator title but it's still Napier calling the shots, this will be circled back to as the chance Napier had to upgrade and opted to stay in house.

If Callaway is a savant and helps implement a dynamic passing game that fully unlocks guys like Boardingham or Tre Wilson, it's a move we will look back at point to as the hire that helped turn the ship around in Gainesville.

We won't know final answer to this question until October/November.