Jeremy Foley had other ideas.
He targeted the 38-year-old Michael White to be the head coach at Florida, and the deal was finalized Thursday. There are a lot of reasons this was an obvious candidate from the beginning, as the hire checks off a lot of the boxes Foley has targeted in past coaching searches.
In the 20 years before White, the Bulldogs made just two NIT appearances. White took them to the NIT in his last three seasons and won at least 27 games in all three of those years. Since Louisiana Tech joined Conference USA in 2013, the Bulldogs have the league's best record in conference play (28-6) and overall (56-17). During the 2012-13 season, White led the program into the AP Poll for the first time in 28 years.
White had big success at a program that hadn’t experienced it since a long time before he got there.
His style of play also seems like a good fit for Florida. His teams push the ball with an up-tempo, dribble drive offense that put up big numbers at Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs averaged 74.2 points, 7.4 three-pointers made and 14.0 assists in White’s four years. They led the league in either field goals made or three-point field goals made in all four seasons under White. He wants his teams to run, something Billy Donovan also wanted and the Florida fan base enjoyed watching.
According to Ken Pomeroy, Louisiana Tech ranked 41st in adjusted tempo (possessions per 40 minutes, adjusted for opponent) last season, but ranked 18th in 2013-14 and 22nd in 2012-13.
Defensively, White’s profile at Louisiana Tech called his style a “pressuring man-to-man” defense. In four years under White, the Bulldogs averaged 8.4 steals, 4.9 blocked shots and 16.1 turnovers forced (seventh in the nation during that span).
The last piece of the puzzle is recruiting. White was born in Dunedin, Fla. and has heavily recruited the state and the southeast. His Bulldogs had five players from the state of Florida last season -- three from St. Petersburg, one from Orlando and one from Chipley. All 15 of his years in college basketball have come in the southeast, and his seven seasons as an assistant coach at Ole Miss have given him experience recruiting against other power five programs.
He’s familiar with the state and has a reputation for being able to recruit, but White now has to prove he can recruit the top talent from the area.