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Monday, June 24, 2024

Fire that other basketball coach, too

Mike White has coached Florida since 2015

<p>Mike White has coached Florida men&#x27;s basketball since 2015, leading the Gators to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons.</p>

Mike White has coached Florida men's basketball since 2015, leading the Gators to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons.

I know, I know.

A few days ago, I wrote a column saying that Florida should fire women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer. Here I am, a week later, calling for UF to fire men’s basketball coach Mike White, too.

I’m far from alone on this one, though. 

Gators Twitter used the hashtag “FireMikeWhite” as a rally cry for years, but it multiplied a thousandfold with UF’s NCAA Tournament-ending loss to 15-seeded Oral Roberts 81-78 Sunday.

I’m joining the club. I may not take it to a 280 character tweet, but I want to delve into why I think this is the offseason to make the change.

To start, let’s look at White’s best year: 2016-17.

The Gators went 27-9 and boasted an impressive 9-1 record at home and a 14-4 record over SEC play.

In the NCAA Tournament, the team carved a heart-palpitating path to the Elite Eight that most prominently featured a buzzer-beater to take down Wisconsin. The team ultimately lost to a very strong South Carolina team. It was the farthest UF basketball got in the national tournament under White’s tenure.

Everyone remembers the famed Chris Chiozza buzzer-beater against Wisconsin in overtime that sent Gator fans into a fervor. But here’s what people don’t remember — with five minutes and 24 seconds left to play in that game, UF claimed a 12-point lead.

It spilled over into overtime and came down to the final beat of the buzzer.

That same slow ball that let Oral Roberts slide past UF in this year’s tournament almost did the same in 2016. And that was White’s best foot forward.

That year aside, White hasn’t made it past the Round of 32 in the three others he and his team competed in. His only wins in the first round of those tournaments were against No. 11 St. Bonaventure, No. 7 Nevada and No. 10 Virginia Tech, the last coming in overtime.

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He hasn’t even made it to an SEC Tournament final in his entire tenure as UF’s coach. He hasn’t beat Florida State, one of UF’s biggest rivals. No UF players were drafted to the NBA — even though a player only needs a year of eligibility before they can declare for the draft.

From game planning to talent development, White is simply average. If UF wants average, then Athletic Director Scott Stricklin should have no qualms keeping White on the staff. If he wants to compete for championships and deep tournament runs in the vein of former coach Billy Donovan, a replacement should be sought sooner rather than later.

I’ll end with this. Among all the coaches I interviewed at this university, White is one of the few who  used my name when he addressed me. As a fledgling beat writer, I appreciated the respect he gave me during media and how he never shied away from a question.

But if Florida wants to reach higher in its aspirations, it must move on. Otherwise, the Gators will find itself in the same scenario next year.

Contact River Wells at and follow him on Twitter @riverhwells


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