The unthinkable has happened. Mike White is gone.
Georgia has officially hired Mike White away from Florida, meaning that not only is White not Florida’s burden anymore- White would have objectively been on the hot seat next season- and not only is he now what Gator fans can reasonably label Georgia’s burden, but Florida just saved millions of dollars. White’s departure on his own accord means that Florida does not have to pay him a buyout as a result of UF being the side to terminate the employment.
In other words, Florida just saved $8.75 million- the amount it would have owed White had they fired him without cause.
According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Georgia initiated the conversation with White around noon today. Less than five hours later, White had informed his team that he was leaving. That means that it took less than five hours from being introduced to the University of Georgia’s athletics association higher-ups until the point where he had decided to leave.
White was… shall we say, underwhelming at Florida. He did take his team to the Elite 8 in his second season. However, the program has done nothing but spiral in a downward trajectory since then. Florida’s last four basketball seasons have all finished outside the top four of the SEC standings, and Florida hasn’t reached the Sweet 16 since that second season- five seasons ago. It all came to a head with a grossly disappointing 2021-22 season in which the team built some early momentum, but crashed and burned after that and fell well short of the NCAA Tournament.
I don’t have any ill will towards Mike White. I believe he is a good man who truly did the best he could. I also believe that he never should have been hired in the first place, enjoyed some beginner’s luck in that second season, and spent the rest of his time over his head and desperately trying to climb back to the surface.
Because the University of Florida sets out to compete for championships. The goal at the University of Florida is to seriously contend for SEC Titles and the final stage of their sport’s season (meaning the College Football Playoff, Final Four, College World Series, Women’s College World Series, College Cup, etc.).
That’s not to say Florida has to achieve these things every year, or even in most years. But in more years than not, Florida should have teams that fans can turn to each other and say, “You know what, because of this or that, I really believe Florida can (do the aforementioned things) this year.”
In other words, Florida should have a team that is legitimately in the running for these accomplishments more years than not. Mike White’s second season- in which he finished second in the SEC and lost a heartbreaker in the Elite 8- checks that box, and in fact would still have checked it had Chris Chiozza’s desperation heave rimmed out in the Sweet 16 against Wisconsin.
But the fact is that in six of his seven seasons, Mike White just didn’t live up to that standard. And now, Florida is tasked with finding someone who can. Someone like Scott Drew, or Dana Altman, or Matt McMahon (and the list will continue in the coming days).
In other words, someone who can make Gator basketball fun again.