Florida football: Lane Kiffin just made Billy Napier’s seat even more scorching hot

Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss Rebels. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss Rebels. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Lane Kiffin getting Austin Simmons to not only flip from Florida to Ole Miss but to reclassify for 2023 is yet another tough blow to the early part of Billy Napier’s Gainesville tenure.

As if Ole Miss needed another quarterback, Lane Kiffin was able to get Austin Simmons to flip from Florida to the Rebels on Saturday afternoon.

Simmons had been committed to the Gators since early April. The Moore Haven, Florida native was initially supposed to be part of the Gators’ 2024 recruiting class. Then on June 17, Simmons decided to flip and Come to the Sip to play for Lane Train, leaving Billy Napier in the dust. This is another devastating blow for the Gators in the quarterback realm in the wake of Jaden Rashada.

Here is Simmons saying he is right at home in Oxford, with the help of a Hayes Fawcett graphic.

The Rebels have already added transfer quarterbacks in Spencer Sanders and Walker Howard from Oklahoma State and LSU respectively, in addition to still having incumbent Jaxson Dart.

Florida’s starting quarterback next year will either be Jack Miller III or Graham Mertz. Big woof!

Lane Kiffin gets Austin Simmons to flip, leaving Billy Napier in utter shambles

There is so much to unpack here, but I will do my best. I think Simmons reclassifying for 2023 will allow him to get a redshirt this fall and potentially compete for the starting job in 2024. It kind of gives off the vibe of Quinn Ewers reclassifying for the 2021 class to enroll a full year early at Ohio State, but I expect for this to have a far better result than whatever the Buckeyes got out of Ewers.

For now, it feels like Dart will duke it out with Sanders for the starting job in Ole Miss this fall, with Howard, potentially Dart and now Simmons fighting for playing time in 2024. As far as Florida is concerned, this is terrible. Your three biggest SEC rivals in Georgia, LSU and Tennessee are all up and y’all are so incredibly down. Napier was hired to fix the recruiting disaster under Dan Mullen.

While I have faith that Napier will eventually have success at the Power Five level, I am starting to have concerns that it won’t be at Florida. Georgia and Tennessee are better in-division now, and South Carolina has the right head coach for them in Shane Beamer. No matter how much support staff Napier has in Gainesville, it is nowhere near enticing enough to get players to want to come.

All things equal, Florida should be the better football program over Ole Miss. The Gators have a better football tradition, as well as a larger recruiting base in-state to work with. Keep in mind that while Mississippi has great high school football, the Rebels have to essentially share the best recruits in-state with arch-rival Mississippi State. Florida should not be down this bad right now.

Ultimately, the Gators are going to need to win about eight games for Napier to feel safe about his job security entering year three. Yes, this is a very hard job to begin with, but you can’t be getting worked like this by Ole Miss. The Rebels haven’t been to Atlanta since the dawn of the SEC Championship. Not to say they will be going there in 2023, but I like their chances over Florida’s…

As if Florida needed another gut punch in the recruiting department, Simmons unloaded on them.

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