Out Of The Swamp
By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The Georgia Bulldogs aren’t leaving the SEC to fill their coaching vacancy. According to Jon Rothstein, Georgia will hire Florida Gators basketball coach Mike White.
Georgia fired Tom Crean on Thursday, March 10. His tenure at Georgia ended after four seasons and a 47-75 record, including a 15-58 conference record. The school owes Crean a $3.2 million buyout, per his contract.
This will be White’s third opportunity to run a program. He got his head coaching break at Louisiana Tech before taking the job at Florida. White also spent time as an assistant coach at Jacksonville State and Ole Miss. Most of White’s career has been spent in the SEC and he’ll stay in the conference with the Bulldogs.
White had received a two-year extension prior to the 2021-22 season. That kept him under contract through 2026-27.
“Though he’s still relatively young by coaching standards, White has already established himself as a successful head coach,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement on June 1, 2021. “Because of his work ethic, intelligence, and competitiveness his career has such a high ceiling, and it’s going to be fun watching what his Gator teams accomplish for years to come.”
The Gators are the only SEC team (one of nine power Six teams), who have not posted a losing conference record over the past seven seasons. While White’s teams were consistently making the tournament, he wasn’t winning over fans.
In seven years with the Gators, White comprised a 243-128 overall record. His teams were 122-69 in conference play. It’s worth noting that White ranked inside the top-20 in all-time SEC winning percentage during his seven-year tenure.
White’s family had stopped coming to games to avoid vitriol pointed towards White. Leaving to a program like Georgia would lend credence to that information. The Bulldogs are in total rebuild mode. White has been a solid recruiter while at Florida and Georgia is looking for a coach to rebuild a program in shambles.
White had led the Gators to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the only SEC program to ever do that. However, the Gators hadn’t made it past the second round since their 2016-17 season’s Elite Eight run.
White, who has spent the last seven seasons guiding the Gators to each of the last four NCAA Tournaments prior to Sunday’s 2022 bracket announcement, also expressed his excitement to be headed to Athens.
“I am beyond excited for the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program at the University of Georgia,” White said. “President Jere W. Morehead and Athletics Director Josh Brooks are united in a strong vision for UGA Basketball which resonated with me deeply. They believe, as I do, in developing our young men as students, athletes and leaders, as well as providing them with the support they need to be successful. I believe in the limitless future of Georgia Basketball.”
White will take over a Georgia team that went 6-26 this past season, the most single season losses in program history. UGA also had more losses than any other SEC program, with a 1-18 in conference record.
One program’s trash is another’s treasure, and there is reason for Georgia fans to be excited. White is a proven recruiter in a high-performance state where recruits are available.
Florida fans can hate him as he goes, and only time will tell if Mike White can raise Georgia’s basketball program from the abyss.