The Case Against Mike White

Let's set the table.

Ok, with that out of the way, let's proceed.

YearRecordSEC recordSeason result
2015-16 18-13 9-9 (8th) NIT
2016-17 24-7 14-4 (2nd) 4 seed, Elite 8
2017-18 20-11 11-7 (3rd) 6 seed, Round of 32
2018-19 17-14 9-9 (8th) 10 seed, Round of 32
2019-20 19-12 11-7 (5th) Postseason cancelled
2020-21 15-10 9-7 (5th) 7 seed, Round of 32 (lost to 15-seed Oral Roberts)
AVERAGE 18-11 10-7 (5th) 7 seed

If you just take the average (and I would be fine with mostly ignoring the first season, when he was just getting his feet wet in his first big-time job), things look decent. Both 2016-17 and 2017-18 were fine. 2nd & 3rd in the conference, respectively. I'm not throwing parties, but those are perfectly fine seasons. '16-'17 was better than fine, with a nice tournament run, featuring a Chris Chiozza buzzer-beater to get us to the Elite 8.

But there is another factor here, especially as a guy who plunks down a bunch of money and drives to the arena for every home game.

Home Losses

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

There are some very bad losses in there. And I haven't even mentioned the bad losses away from home (and there are more than a few).

So let's look at the overall trends over the past 4+ seasons.

  1. Regression since year 2
  2. Average of 5th in SEC
  3. 17 home losses since the start of 2017-2018

The Conundrum

This is not an open-and-shut case. Mike White is clearly not a bad coach. He took over a program coming off a sub-.500 season, and had it back in the NCAA tournament on a regular basis. But at the same time, there's clearly been program regression & a disturbing number of bad losses, especially at home. And after 6 seasons, no "banners" -- SEC titles or appearances in national semis.

The Excuses

But it's a young team

Sorry, but a LOT of teams in modern CBB have a lot of roster turnover. Somehow, many of them manage to avoid a bevy of bad home losses. Sure, every so often great coaches take some time to get a team to truly play together (2013-14 Kentucky comes to mind), but youth is not an excuse that can be used year after year.

He has won with subpar rosters

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. First, who makes the roster? Billy is long gone so we can't blame him. Certainly, White's rosters in years 3/4 (particularly year 4) were not elite. Why did these teams lack strong frontcourts? Whose fault is that?

But the Gators made the tournament [X] years in a row

So what? Is sneaking into a 68-team tournament as an 8 seed a good season? Is the best the Gators can do? Is it totally unreasonable to expect some sort of banner after 6 seasons, such as an SEC title?

The Conclusion

I can best sum it up with this graphic:

Some people will say 4 straight tournament appearances is better than "OK." And they'd be right ... for a program like Rutgers or USF. Mike White is a good coach. But is he a great one? Because I think UF can and should have a great basketball coach. No, we won't get Roy Williams or Coach K. But I submit to you that there's a decent-sized gap between Coach K and Mike White. I could name more than a few coaches in that gap, and that's the type of coach UF should have.

To be clear: I hope I am wrong. But for me, the Mike White ship has sailed. I don't think he's the guy for this program and it's my belief that he won't be here for more than another season or 2. I just think we've seen the Mike White show enough to know what it is, and what it isn't. Inconsistency, home losses, but juuuuuust good enough to get into the 68-team NCAA tournament.


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