The Start of The Golden Era of Florida Basketball
It has been a very eventful week and a half for the Florida Men's Basketball program. After losing to Texas A&M last week on Thursday in their first game of the SEC Tournament, the Gators were essentially eliminated from NCAA Tournament contention. This ultimately led to what happened on Sunday evening, when Mike White decided to leave Florida to go take the job at Georgia as their head coach, a move that was met by much happiness by many in the Gator Nation. Well, just five days after it was announced that White was leaving for Georgia, the Gators have found their next head coach.
Todd Golden has been announced to be the next head coach of the Florida Gators. Golden has been the head coach at the University of San Francisco since the 2019-2020 season and had much success with the Dons. In his three years there, Golden compiled a 57-36 record which included two 20+ win seasons and the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998 this year, when the Dons went 24-7 on their way to a 10 seed. At just 36 years old, too, Golden is one of the youngest coaches in college basketball.
What makes him so desirable is how he uses analytics and numbers to his advantage when coaching his team. This has led him to be seen as an innovator in the game, a common trend amongst young head coaches in college basketball today. These are things that he learned while being an assistant coach under now Washington State head coach Kyle Smith during Smith's tenures at Columbia and San Francisco. Smith is known as being an innovator and very analytical, too, so he has learned under a guy who has risen through the ranks of college basketball by using these methods.
Along with being an assistant for Smith at those two stops, he also was an assistant for Bruce Pearl at Auburn from 2014-2016, which were Pearl's first three years as head coach of the Tigers. During this time, he went from director of basketball operations to assistant coach, helping lead the Tigers to a 16th ranked recruiting class in 2015 and a 12th ranked class nationally in 2016. Recruiting that highly at a school like Auburn, who hadn't seen much success in basketball up to that point, shows his skills as a recruiter and is something that will prove valuable in the SEC.
Golden was a player at Saint Mary's from 2004-2007 and played a few years overseas in the pros, so he has playing experience as well. While Golden wasn't seen by many to be a probable candidate for the Florida job, he had major interest from many other SEC schools and was seen as a guy who was ready to be offered a big time job. I know many Gator fans out there might be upset or disappointed that we didn't get a big name coach like Tony Bennet or Scott Drew and instead got another mid-major school coach. However, in just three short years at San Francisco, Golden made the program one of the most respected in the mid-major ranks and overall I think this is a good hire by Scott Stricklin.