Just like that, the Mike White era at Florida is over.
In seven seasons, the University of Florida head basketball coach compiled a 230-142 record and made four NCAA Tournament appearances. Not bad, but this is Florida basketball we're talking about. Reaching the big dance is the bare minimum.
The Florida fanbase came to expect a higher standard under White's predecessor, Billy Donovan. The former UF head coach turned the program into one of the best in the country, reaching four Final Fours and winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007.
So, when Donovan left Gainesville to coach the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015, the Gator faithful expected the program to continue humming. White, who was hired after a successful four-year stint at Louisiana Tech, seemed like the ideal fit because of his similarities to Donovan. Both were point guards during their playing days, and they both made mid-major programs relevant before coming to Florida.
However, White wasn't able to maintain Florida's status as one of the SEC's best teams. They regularly finished in the middle of the conference, and other than an Elite Eight run in 2017, White's Florida squads were regularly ousted during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
What seemed like a good marriage at the start eventually turned sour. Still, it was a surprise when White left Florida to take the head coaching job at Georgia following the Gators' loss to Texas A&M in the 2022 SEC Tournament. Another SEC school? A heated rival? What was going on?
The stale mediocrity had run its course for both sides. It was time for a fresh start, and White actually did his former employer a solid by taking another job rather than forcing Florida to fire him. White's move saves the Gators from buying out his contract, which ran until 2027, giving them extra cash to pursue a top replacement.
Who should athletic director Scott Stricklin go after in his coaching search? Let's take a look at five potential candidates in addition to three he shouldn't consider.
5 Florida Basketball Coaching Candidates to Replace Mike White
Anthony Grant, Dayton
As Matthew McConaughey once said, sometimes you've got to go back to actually move forward. Grant was a longtime assistant under Donovan at Florida and joined his staff once again on the Thunder.
In between, he had head coaching stints at VCU and Alabama. His time at Alabama wasn't anything to write home about, but he won nearly 60 percent of his games there. Nonetheless, Grant has had success in his current role at Dayton and had the Flyers positioned to be a No. 1 seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to COVID-19.
Association with Donovan is never bad around Gainesville. Someone like Grant, who is familiar with the program and was part of the success under Donovan, is worth taking a look at.
Matt McMahon, Murray State
One of the hottest up-and-coming names in the business, Matt McMahon has turned Murray State into a powerhouse in the Ohio Valley Conference. This year, the Racers sport a 30-2 record heading into the NCAA Tournament with many bracket makers expecting them to play spoiler.
Given McMahon's three conference titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances, plus his part in helping develop NBA star Ja Morant, McMahon should have plenty of job offers coming this offseason.
Does Stricklin want to go with another on-the-rise-guy though?
Tony Bennett, Virginia
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Tony Bennett has solidified himself as one of the best coaches in all of college basketball. The Virginia head man took a middle-tier ACC school and turned them into foils to Duke and North Carolina.
Most importantly, Bennett would bring championship pedigree to Gainesville, having led the Hoos to the program's only national title in 2019. The question surrounding Bennett is why would he want to leave Charlottesville when he's had so much success?
Well, after 13 years, it could be time for a change of scenery, and with the bag Stricklin could offer, he should listen at the very least. Bennett would be a slam-dunk hire.
Greg McDermott, Creighton
McDermott is a big name coach who could be an attainable get. He's amassed 20 or more wins in the past seven seasons and regularly has the Bluejays near the top of the Big East.
After losing all five starters from last year's team, Creighton still managed to finish in fourth in the conference this year. They made a run to the Big East Tournament championship game, too, including thrashing top-seeded Providence by 27 in the semifinals.
McDermott's deepest NCAA Tournament run came last year when the Bluejays reached the Sweet 16, but he does have consistency on his side. It would be interesting to see what he could do with Florida's resources. He also has a black mark on his resume from making a poor choice with his words last year. Would Florida want to take on the potential image risk?
As a Nebraska fan, all I can say is it would be devastating to see this guy in Gainesville instead of Omaha.
Jerome Tang, Baylor Associate Head Coach
I've seen Scott Drew's name thrown around, but he's been at Baylor for nearly 20 years and is fresh off winning a national championship. He has no reason to leave. That doesn't mean his longtime assistant coach, Jerome Tang, is in the same boat.
Tang serves as Drew's primary recruiter and is the driving force behind the Baylor's recent explosion in talent. Currently, the Bears have Keyonte George, the No. 4 recruit in the class of 2022, locked up.
Tang could be to Florida what Tommy Lloyd is to Arizona. Lloyd was a longtime assistant under Mark Few at Gonzaga and made Arizona a national championship contender in his first season as the Wildcats head coach.
3 Names Who Shouldn't Be Considered
Rick Pitino, Iona
The cons for Pitino heavily outweigh the pros. His history of corruption scandals speaks for itself. Plus, he's 69. There are better options out there.
Archie Miller, Former Indiana Coach
Like White, Miller was another up-and-comer who couldn't find much success at a bigger program. He only eclipsed 20 wins once during his four seasons in Bloomington and never made the NCAA Tournament. He would be an uninspiring hire.
Shaka Smart, Marquette
White and Miller are company. Add Smart to the mix and we have ourselves a crowd. Smart didn't do much at Texas despite having every resource imaginable. I don't see him faring any better at Florida. Marquette is a much better fit for him.
Other Candidates to Consider
- Dennis Gates, Cleveland State
- Mike Rhoades, VCU
- Kelvin Sampson, Houston
MORE: The 25 Highest-Paid Coaches in College Basketball
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