Whitley's Believe It or Not: White safe, as Florida not a win-at-all-cost program

David Whitley
Gator Sports
Florida coach Mike White gestures to his team during Friday's NCAA Tournament game vs. Virginia Tech.

The post-mortem on Florida's basketball season has transitioned into silly season Tuesday. I was scanning the web and came across the headline "5 potential replacements for embattled Mike White."

There's that list, then there's the real list: 5) Mike White, 4) Mike White, 3) Mike White, 2) Mike White, 1) Mike White.

In other words, Mike White will be Florida's basketball coach next year and probably far beyond. That will not please a lot of fans, and I get it. The Gators' meltdown against Oral Roberts on Sunday night hit all the usual frustrating buttons.

But Florida is not going to fire a coach who's been to four consecutive NCAA tournaments. The university would get ripped as a win-at-all-cost basketball factory if it fired White after he steered the team through the Keyontae Johnson crisis-riddled season that just ended.

The fact is, Florida brass is infinitely more patient than the average chat-room junkie. "Embattled" coaches make for good headlines, but you might as well be reading about potential landing sites for Martian spaceships in Gainesville.

Or worse, you could donate to the GoFundMe page started Sunday to buy out White's contract. The goal is $1.75 million. As of Tuesday, it was up to $30.

There are far better things to spend your money on, like …

Fried Key Lime Pie! I bring that up because UF revised its social-distancing guidelines this week. Fans can now get within three feet of each other.

What that really means is more people can watch spring sports. Capacity at the new baseball stadium (with its haute cuisine menu) will expand from 1,700 to 3,000.

Try the brisket nachos. They're less likely to give you indigestion than a UF hoops game.

Oral Infraction: The school's honor code prohibits profanity, smoking, drinking, pre-marital tomfoolery and dancing. But I'm pretty sure I saw scores of students line dancing Sunday night when the TV broadcast cut to the NCAA tournament watch party.

It was like the 2021 version of "Footloose." If nothing else, give the Gators credit for triggering the craziest bender in Oral Roberts history ... 

Stud of the Week: Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee, who won his third consecutive NCAA title in the 125-pound class. Lee tore the ACL in his right leg in high school, and it's never fully healed.

Two weeks ago, he tore the ACL in his left leg. He didn't make it public until after winning his latest title.

"I’m wrestling with no ACLs. Whatever man. I didn’t want to tell anyone," Lee said. "Because (bleep) excuses. Excuses are for wusses.” …

Dud of the Week: The Big Ten, supposedly the greatest hoops conference on earth. Oops. Eight of nine teams were eliminated in the NCAA tournament's first weekend … 

Oral Redux: Until 2009, the school also prohibited male students from having long hair. That explains how Florida won the recruiting battle over Joakim Noah …

Overlooked Stud of All Time: Elgin Baylor, who died Monday at age 86. Baylor wasn't just a Hall-of-Famer, he was the pioneer of acrobatic, airborne basketball. If Nike had been around in 1958, we'd all be wearing Air Elgins.

What's more, Baylor was an U.S. Army reserve who was called to active duty from 1961-62. He was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, but used his weekend passes to play for the Lakers.

He averaged 38.2 points and 18.6 rebounds that year.

Prediction: No NBA player will ever again average 38.2 points, 18.6 rebounds and serve in the Army during a season …

Little Green Man?: John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence in the Trump Administration, said last week that an upcoming Pentagon report will detail government evidence of "unidentified aerial phenomena," aka UFOs.

Note to the Fire Mike White crowd — the chances of a Martian spaceship landing in Gainesville and delivering Billy Donovan are still 1 in 1.9 gazillion ...

After Oregon State's board of trustees put president F. King Alexander on probation last week he resigned Tuesday. It was in response to the Les Miles fiasco, and how then LSU-president Alexander looked the other way while Miles was allegedly acting like college football's version of Harvey Weinstein.

At the risk of getting kicked out of Oral Roberts, something about the name "F. King Alexander" seems quite appropriate ...

For What It's Worth: Sixty years, the NBA's best player saluted the flag during the national anthem. Now, NBA players kneel during the national anthem. Times sure have changed ...

That's about it for this week's Whitley's Believe It or Not. If you were not satisfied with the product, I recommend starting a GoFundMe page. As much as I love my job, it will not take $1.75 million to buy me out.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley

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