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UL head coach Billy Napier said Monday he feels like a million bucks physically after a brief bout with the coronavirus and will be on the sidelines during Saturday's game in Monroe.

It’s getting closer to the end of the college football season.

Already one power five football coach has been fired in Will Muschamp at South Carolina.

That means the process of dropping names for potential replacements has begun.

Just like a year ago, UL coach Billy Napier’s name is right in the middle of the discussion.

Just a day after his Ragin’ Cajuns moved up to No. 24 in the AP poll at 7-1 overall following Saturday’s 38-10 win over South Alabama, Napier’s name was mentioned by Football Scoop as one of five candidates to replace Muschamp.

The other names on the list are Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell, Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze, Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer and Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

Others have suggested Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott may be a candidate as well.

And just like last season, Napier wasn’t very willing to discuss the issue at Monday’s weekly zoom meeting with the media.

“You guys have been around me for a couple of years now,” Napier said. “You know I’m not going to comment on a specific job, especially at this point in time.”

A year ago, Napier was mentioned as a potential candidate at such openings as Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Memphis, Arkansas and Baylor.

“I hope we continue to have this problem,” Napier said. “That means we’re doing something right. Oftentimes when individuals get recognized, it’s a result of the team having success. It’s no different from our players than from our coaches.”

When specifically asked if he or his agent have been contacted by South Carolina or a search firm, Napier responded, “Not that I’m aware of, but like I mentioned to you earlier, I’m not going to comment on specific jobs. This is part of the business.

“This will be the last time that I’ll comment on this now. I said what I wanted to say about it.”

Napier’s Cajuns will dip into non-conference play against Central Arkansas at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cajun Field, before heading to ULM at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28.

“Our focus is on our team,” Napier said. “I feel strongly about staying focused on the task at hand and doing the best job that we can do for this group of players and this staff. That’s exactly the approach that we’ll take for the duration.”

The South Carolina coaching search is just one of several potential distractions for the Cajuns this week. It’s going to be Senior Day at Cajun Field on Saturday, in addition to the team being focused on a non-conference foe having already clinched a spot in the Sun Belt championship game.

“We always talk about one game at a time,” redshirt junior long snapper Paul Boudreaux said. “This is the next opponent. We’ll prepare this week just like any other week. We’ll prepared as if we’re playing Iowa State. It doesn’t matter the opponent. We’ll go ahead and take care of business.”

Napier also suggested all the close games UL’s played in this season should help them deal with staying mentally on point before, during and after the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I do think from an intangible standpoint that is going to benefit us,” Napier said. “It’s humbled us a little bit too. To know that we’ve got to be at our best for us to control a game, dominate a game. It was good to finally do that.

“We’re getting closer, but I think these intangibles that we’ve developed with some of these tight games I think will benefit us going forward for sure.”

Regardless of the issue, Napier quickly took the positive approach to any potential distractions.

“I do think all of these things are a positive because we’re relevant, we’re significant,” he said. “We’ve been in contention and we’ve found a way to build a program, win games and do it a certain way.”


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.