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Magic of Danny White

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Danny White was UB AD from 2012-2015.  That's only 3 years, but boy are we benefiting from his decisions.  

His NYBI is no more, but it's that initiative that has set this whole thing in motion.  

Let's look at 4 key hires that changed the course of UB Athletics.

First and foremost, he had the guts to replace Reggie Witherspoon.  Now I love Coach Witherspoon.  He did so much for UB Basketball, but for one reason or another, he just couldn't get over the hump.  White came in and he decided that it was not enough.  He released Coach W.  It was a risky move.  He took another risk by hiring a coach in Bobby Hurley with zero head coaching experience.  Bobby Hurley took us to the promised land in year 2.  His sudden decision to move to ASU put the whole operation in jeopardy.

So what does White do?  He quickly moves to hire the assistant who was coaching HS bball only 2 years ago.  I think all of us were satisfied with Nate Oats, but let's face it, we didn't know he wold be this good.  Not only has he been a great coach, but he's been a great recruiter.  He no longer had a big name behind him in his recruiting pitch, but still managed to pull in some talent.  I would say that first year, it was mostly finding undiscovered talent, not necessarily big names.  Well Nate Oats is a star in college basketball.  He's not a rising star, he's a star.

UB women had never gone to an NCAA tournament in its history.  Well, we all know Felisha Legette-Jack took us there twice.  Once in 2016 and then to the sweet sixteen in 2018.  So who made this hire?  Well it was back in 2012 and that was under you guessed it Danny White (June 2012).  The hire was a coach who had experience at a major university, but didn't meet expectations.

UB basketball went to D1 in 1991.  The men broke through in 2015.  Women in 2016.  So that's 24 years of futility for the men.  25 for the women.  That's 49 seasons of 0 NCAA appearances.  Then we had

  • 2015 Men under Bobby Hurley
  • 2016 Women under FLJ
  • 2017 Men under Nate Oats
  • 2018 Men reach round of 32, Women reach Sweet Sixteen
  • That's 5 NCAA appearances in 4 years.

Moving onto football.  Coach Quinn had mild success.  He did take us to a bowl game, but he too was replaced with Lance Leipold.  This time he went to a seasoned coach who had immense success at the DIII level.  We were all excited about the hire but questioned whether he could do it at the next level.  Well it looks like LL can.  He's really put a nice program together with talent at every position.  Most importantly he's found a QB and developed that QB.

Now the amazing thing about all these four hires is that there is absolutely no pattern.  One was someone with 0 head coaching experience.  One was a HS coach.  One was a coach who was given a chance and failed.  The last was a coach who had success at a lower level.  Danny White was a visionary.  He is long gone from UB, but I can't believe how good he was for UB.

So Danny White, if you are relaxing in some beach in Florida right now in the sun.  I want to say, thank you.  You did some amazing things in your short time at Buffalo.  I hope Buffalonians can forget the hurt feelings from the NYBI initiative in like 5 years and induct you into the UB hall of fame because you were truly a visionary.  Without that vision and salesmanship, none of these four coaches are here at UB.

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Overarching theme is taking a risk but making it work.

Big Risk firing Reggie and going Hurley. But 150% the right move in hindsight.

Big Risk going NYBI, poor execution, probably the wrong move in hindsight.

Big Risk announcing the East/West Club, as it was probably the most ambitious building project, right move as it helped fund the fieldhouse

Played it safe, keeping and extending Quinn, not sure if it was good or bad, and I'd say the jury is still out on Lance...

PROs
Has the great 2013 season  
He recruited Tyree
The OL is great

CONs
Possibly cost us a MAC championships in 2013 
Had to pay a buyout
Weak at the skill positions
Weak Brand

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Regarding "weak brand"...

Trying to remove any personal opinion of the Initiative, I'd say...

His reign didn't last long enough for this con to be conclusive.  It most likely would have gained strength with additional time.

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Tucking this here cause I don't want to start a new thread but excerpt from an formerADAG interview:

Quote

"The hospitality, the genuineness. It's comforting to know there are people in the Deep South who accept you for who you are," he said. "Growing up in Seattle, I wouldn't have expected that of any city in Mississippi or Alabama.

"I've had some negative experiences in Seattle. I've had some at Notre Dame. I've had some in Buffalo and during my professional baseball days. Oxford? Nothing terrible, but race is very front of mind in Oxford, Mississippi. I'd say more so than here in Alabama."

Interesting.

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