Why Did Florida Pick Mike White to Replace Billy Donovan?

  • Florida under Donovan had arguably risen to one of the elite programs.

    UF is in a great state for recruiting.

    UF is in a great time zone and conference for good spin and favorable tournament engineering.

    UF could have attracted almost any top coach it wanted.

    UF selected Mike White from Louisiana Tech.

    What in god’s name was UF thinking?

    Mike White is an Ole Miss basketball grad that played for Rob Evans, a Sutton guy, who flamed out at Ole Miss, then flamed out at Arizona State, and became a career assistant.

    White also played a season for Rod Barnes, an Ole Miss grad come home to his alma mater. Rob Barnes went 141-109 at Ole Miss, before career boring downward to Georgia State, and Cal State Bakersfield.

    Not much of a college pedigree as a player. His predecessor, Billy Donovan, played at Providence under Pitino. Providence was a pretty good program under Pitino and before Pitino. Ole Miss. They play football. They had Johnny Neumann, then what?

    White assisted at Jacksonville State and Ole Miss. Jacksonville State once had Artis Gilmore, right? But its not exactly a hotbed of great coaches, is it? Ole Miss? Hot bed of coaches? Not. Billy Donovan assisted at Kentucky. Now we all hate Kentucky, but even on our bad days we can agree Kentucky adds more to the pedigree than Jackson State, or Ole Miss.

    White got his first head job at Louisiana Tech, where he did quite well. Louisiana Tech and Marshall are perhaps comparable on some levels.

    Bottom line here is that White does not seem like the kind of sparkling coaching prospect that Billy Donovan was when Florida took a chance on Donovan. At least to me. I bit my tongue and figured the leadership of Florida must have known something I didn’t. I mean Florida is a major athletic institution. Great football. Great basketball. Got to have persons making hires that know shizzle from shinola, right?

    What was Florida thinking?

    They get lucky with Billy Donovan who builds them into an elite program; then, instead of building on what Donovan had done, and going shopping for an even better prospect than Donovan was when he came, they signed Mike White from Louisiana Tech, assistant from Jacksonville State, and player from Ole Miss.

    What kind of “dumb” pills were the leaders of Florida popping?

    This is the kind of a move the University of Missouri might pull.

    Does the University of Florida leadership get too much sun to pick a basketball coach befitting an elite program?

    Maybe someone should buy them some Tilley sun hats.

    Yes, Mike White would be quite a surprise, if he turned out to be as good as Donovan.

    Hell, he would be more than a surprise. He would be miraculous.

    But why didn’t they just pick a great young coach with a great pedigree, or even a great experienced coach, with a great pedigree, and forget about being surprised and instead enjoy what a top coach can do at an elite program?

    That was easy.

    Why wasn’t it easy for Florida leadership?

    Had football mad Florida just had enough success in basketball?

    Or did someone spike their Gatorade with an MK-Ultra mind deadener?

    I am not down on Mike White. He is a good coach. He deserved a step up to a major, like Self deserved after doing well at Tulsa. But Florida signing Mike White straight out of Louisiana Tech would have been a little like KU hiring Self out of Tulsa, only worse. Self had a much better pedigree.

    Doesn’t who a person plays for and assists with matter anymore?

    Hell, if that doesn’t matter, doesn’t a person’s connections to the petroshoeco-agency complex matter?

    What was Florida thinking?

    They could have had so many great coaches and great coaching prospects.

    What a waste of Donovan’s foundation.

  • Post Script: The greatest long shot in modern KU history was Roy Williams, who had only assisted Dean.

    But assistant coaching at UNC for ten years was frankly more impressive than head coaching at UNC!

    And Roy brought the most important thing of all at the time: preferred access to the Dean/Mike/Sonny Vaccaro/Nike cabal.

    2-3 Blue Chips west of the Big Easy every other season seemed to be the deal in those days!

    Mike White?

    He got to 21 wins with Donovan’s leavings.

    Now he signs Shai A-W away from Binghamton and St. Bonaventure and then loses him to Decommit State University.

    Not a good sign for leadership in a state fully of hungry gators!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Hind sight is always 20-20. Remember Missouri passed on Bill Self and took metro-sexual Quin Snyder instead; talk about a boner

    Florida much like Alabama and Texas and most Southern schools are primarily football schools and basketball is in many case is just a level up from an afterthought. Florida hit the perfect storm getting a quality but largely unproven coach (only 2 years of HC experience at Marshall) and a few great recruiting classes that resulted in two National; Championships, but Donovan saw the writing on the wall and figure that level of success was not sustainable at a football school and bolted for the NBA before the program crashed and burnt in the football crazy SEC.

    I am not sure Florida could have attracted any coach it wanted any more than Texas could and had to settle for Shaka “not so” Smart, a coach that is a legend only in his own mind; I would not personally consider him to be a top tier coach. Both schools would be happy with a good program but I don’t believe being a top basketball program is a priority at either school.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Because hind sight IS always 20/20, one ought always do the smart thing to begin with. There are no guaranties. Only smarter and dumber plays. Snyder was a smart move that backfired. Snyder is now head coach of the Jazz. Obviously he was a very talented coach that lost his way in an undrained swamp of Columbia. Likely as not Self would have imploded at MU, too. Why? Because they have hired a lot of talented coaches and the MU culture wrecks them, or they flee. Self would have had to flee same as Mike Anderson, or go down in flames like their other solid hires.

  • Also, the mistakes you make at a punching bag program like MU lead to harsh NCAA discipline of a kind never meted out at UNC, Duke and KU.

    I’m sure part of why Self wanted out of Champaign Urbana was it’s like Missouri. Sooner or later you are going to break a rule and get clobbered for it at an Illinois. Elite schools are better places to goof up.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    You have to remember that Snyder was the hand picked choice of the Kroenkes, big time MU donors, as we all know. After his stint at MU, he was in, shall we say atoning in purgatory, coaching the Austin Toros before taking jobs with the 76ers, Lakers, CSKA Moscow and Atlanta Hawks before taking over the Jazz; it took him a long time to get there. Coach Self has been successful every where he has coached right from the get go. Snyder’s record at MU is 126-91 overall and 56–50 in conference; neither a record to brag about. In the NBA in two season his record is 38-44 (.463) and 40-42 (.488) or a combined 78-86 (.476), again, nothing to write home about…although better than Calipari’s record in the NBA, although in all fairness, the squid was coaching New Jersey.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    The guy merely being in coaching after the humiliation he endured means people believe in his coaching and think he can be saddle broken now.

    Coaching in the NBA?

    He’s doing it.

    If you’re saying he’s a vampire, I agree.

    But he’s back.

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