When the two married last summer, everything seemed to be in place for the young couple as they adjusted to married life.
Napier was an up-and-coming
football coach that was responsible for signing one of Clemson's best
recruiting classes ever.
As the tight ends coach he was entering his third season at Clemson and
his second year as the recruiting coordinator. He was being called one of
the best recruiters in the country and at the same time he was supposed to
be part of squad that was a preseason top 10 and the favorite to win the
Looking back, Billy Napier was supposed to get married, it appeared 2008 was
definitely the time to do it.
But then came the Alabama game to open the
season, and just when it had seemed Clemson had fixed the problems and was
poised to make a run towards an ACC Title, it hit rock bottom again.
First they blew a second-half lead to Maryland at home and then followed
that up with an uninspiring defeat at the hands of Wake Forest the
following Thursday night.
Four days later, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden
was fired as head coach and so began the whirlwind.
While trying to salvage a top five recruiting class that was falling apart
at every corner, Napier was also trying to help run an offense that had
lost its confidence and identity and saw its offensive coordinator fired.
"We had a lot of momentum going and had one of the best classes in the
country coming together for a second straight year," he said. "So as I
look back at that, I think, 'Man we had it going.' We had it rolling. I
think about that a lot.
"We had a couple of the best safeties in the country and we had leads on
some of the other best players in the country so that goes to show it is
'Show me the Money' to some degree. You have to go and win games. All that
other stuff is great, but this is a game about productivity."
But through it all, Napier said there was one thing that was consistent in
his life at the time - his newlywed wife, Ali.
"All of this is what we do, it isn't who we are," Napier said. "Whether we
are winning or losing she is going to be the same person and she has been
good to come home to everyday."
But in those early days after Bowden left, Napier did not see home too
much. Like head coach Dabo Swinney and the rest of the staff, Napier spent
countless hours trying to fix what was wrong and get things turned around.
It wasn't exactly the situation he had envisioned for his first year of
marriage. But again, he said Ali never faltered with her support and
"She has been great," Napier said. "That was part of her marrying me
because she knew what came along with it. Regardless of where we are at,
we will have a great relationship.
"She understands that I have a lot of pressure and she understands that
this is a business. Just like any other job, you try to do your best. She
understands that if we have to get up and move, then she will get up and
"We don't have any kids and obviously that would change things, but if
anything, I think what happened last year has brought us closer together."
With summer already in full swing, the Napier family are looking forward to finally
getting a little time off and catching up on some of what they had missed
during those trying times in the fall of 2008.
"We try to make a legitimate effort to do things together at certain times
during the week and that kind of stuff," Napier said. "We have our
schedule pretty ironed out."
And after a turbulent first year as a wife of a college football coach -
it sounds like Mrs. Napier deserves a good vacation.
"She is very supportive. I got the right one," Napier added.
Napier found the right one
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