Primer on new Florida Gators basketball coach Michael White with answers to your questions

By Adam Silverstein
May 8, 2015

The Florida Gators on Thursday officially announced the hiring of Michael White as the 20th men’s basketball coach in program history.

Watch Live: Introductory press conference — Monday, May 11 at 11 a.m.

There is plenty to know about the former Louisiana Tech head coach and Florida native, which will break down for you in this primer.

Name: Michael (Mike) White

Age: 38 – Though White is under 40, he is actually tied with Lon Kruger and Tommy Bartlett as the ninth-youngest head coach in program history.

Hometown: Dunedin, Florida

Family: Kira (wife), Rylee (daughter), Maggie (daughter) Collin and Keegan (twin sons), Dillon (son) – Kira Zschau was an All-SEC volleyball player at Ole Miss where she earned her law degree.

Playing experience: Guard, Ole Miss (1995-99) – Started nearly every game in four seasons, finishing with 370 assists (sixth in program history).

Coaching experience: Jacksonville State (assistant, 2000-04); Ole Miss (assistant, 2004-11); Louisiana Tech (head coach, 2011-15) – White went 101-40 (.716) at LA Tech

Coaching style: Up-tempo, high-energy, man-to-man press defense

Championships: Western Athletic Conference (regular season, 2013); Conference USA (regular season, twice, 2014-15)

Coaching honors: WAC Coach of the Year (2013), Co-USA Coach of the Year (2015)

Coaching staff: According to Evan Daniels, White plans to take LA Tech assistant Jordan Mincy with him to Florida. Mincy served as an assistant over four years at Kent State, College of Charleston and Toledo before linking up with White. “Jordan is a really talented coach, mentor, and recruiter,” said White during Mincy’s Bulldogs introduction. “I’ve known him since his high school playing days and have followed his extremely successful career very closely. All he has ever done throughout, both playing and coaching, is win. He also has an innate ability to connect with people which will serve our players well.”

Immediate reactions:

Mike Brey, Notre Dame head coach (via Sports Illustrated): “Not a more talented young guy in the biz. The whole package.”

Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst: “Michael White is a GREAT hire for Jeremy Foley and Florida! He is a star!”

Doug Gottlieb, CBS Sports college basketball analyst: “Mike White is a terrific hire. Foley got a young Billy D. Arch[ie Miller] will get a big time job whenever he wants, but White fits better at #UF”

Fran Fraschilla, ESPN college basketball analyst: “If you wanted to hire a Billy Donovan clone, Michael White would be your guy. Same intensity, same maturity, same class. UF made a good hire”

True or false? Let’s play.

Xavier’s Chris Mack was offered the job and/or turned Florida down: False. Reports that Mack was the Gators’ top target were unsubstantiated.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley started his coaching search Monday: False. Foley said he began preparing a list weeks ago, paid more attention to it last Thursday and met with administrators for the first time Monday. (Somewhat false. Foley began compiling a list months ago but was waiting for Donovan’s exit to reach out to his top choice, timeline be damned.)

White was Florida’s first choice: True. A source told on Thursday, after the fact, that Foley reached out to Louisiana Tech early in the week and White was the only coach Florida called to discuss the position.

Foley pegged White for the job because he was a cheaper option than Mack and Archie Miller: So false. (Side note: Florida is paying a $500,000 buyout for White, which is the same amount it is supposed to receive from Oklahoma City for Billy Donovan.)

This is only temporary. Once Mike Krzyzewski retires, Kevin White (Mike’s father and Duke’s athletic director) will hire his own son: False (probably). It is impossible to tell the future, but the post-Coach K Blue Devils will likely be run by one of his disciples, not the athletic director’s son, who has few if any recruiting ties in the northeast.

Foley took the easy way out with White instead of making a big splash and ponying up for Miller or Gregg Marshall: False. The easiest thing for an athletic director to do is find a bigger-name coach, throw some money at him and bring him into a program without considering fit or chance for success. It took effort for Foley to convince Urban Meyer to join the Gators, but it was not tough to figure out someone with Meyer’s credentials was the right guy for the job. Foley is taking a big cut (since he’s so fond of baseball references) with White. It could be a home run like Donovan; it could be a strikeout swinging like Muschamp. But at least he took a cut and went with what he believes to be a proven formula for this job.

White would not be Florida’s coach if Donovan left immediately after the season was over: True (possibly) but only because the Gators likely would have gone after Shaka Smart, who almost certainly would have chosen Florida over interest from Alabama and Texas (where he wound up). But the Gators certainly did not have the luxury to assume Donovan was going to take an NBA job, even if he was leaning that way. The difficult part of the basketball coaching carousel is that the college postseason and pro regular season do not end at the same time; therefore, making a coaching hire after the ride has stopped spinning is exponentially more difficult due to a lack of unmoved candidates.

White is just like Donovan: Maybe. There are similarities: (1) Both are Catholic with large families, (2) both had success in their first head coaching job in a smaller conference, (3) both joined Florida known for their fast-paced offenses, (4) both had a lot of success as college players but failed to establish a pro career.

There are also key differences: (1) White is older and has more head coaching experience than Donovan did when hired, (2) Donovan carried a pedigree as a Rick Pitino protege who coached at Kentucky, (3) White is a local product with Southern recruiting ties, while Donovan is from New York and had to sow his oats in Florida.

It is unfair to compare White to Donovan, despite the fact that it will happen early and often – at least throughout the beginning stages of White’s career with the Gators.

One Comment

  1. .?? says:

    Good notes. Thanks.