The hole on Florida Gators coach Mike White’s staff didn’t exist for long.
Just a week after reports revealed the departure of newly-hired assistant Armon Gates, the Gators announced the hiring of former Texas Tech assistant Al Pinkins as associate head coach on Friday.
The quotes from White and Pinkins in Florida’s release are sufficiently glowing.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to bring Al to Florida,” White said. “I’ve known Al for many years, and his high-level coaching experience and familiarity with the SEC make him a great addition to our coaching staff. He does great work in all phases of the job, but has a particularly strong track record of developing big men.”
”My family and I are thrilled to become a part of Gator Nation,” Pinkins said. “I’ve been to Gainesville many times as an opposing coach. I look forward to having the Rowdy Reptiles and the rest of the University of Florida’s great fans on my side now. This opportunity for me and my family comes after two wonderful and successful seasons spent in Lubbock at Texas Tech. We will always be grateful to Coach Chris Beard, [Texas Tech athletic director] Kirby Hocutt and our Red Raider family for our time spent there.
”Recently, I had the chance to revisit some discussions I had with Coach White when his staff first had an opening. It became clear that the University of Florida is a special place and a program my family and I want to be a part of. I’m ready to get to work. Go Gators!”
And, hey, that all works, doesn’t it? Florida nabs a coach with some high-profile recent pupils — Pinkins didn’t have much to work with in the frontcourt at Texas Tech under Chris Beard, but was on staff at LSU when Ben Simmons had a brilliant single collegiate season, and helped develop Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway into standouts at Ole Miss — and expertise in grooming the type of player the Gators have lacked of late, and Pinkins probably gets a better deal this go-round than he would’ve gotten had the Gators not needed to swiftly and quietly replace Gates.
The problem here, if there is one, is that whatever happened between Florida — and White, specifically — and Gates is likely to remain a blemish on White’s tenure until or unless it fades from view.
Nebraska announced Gates as an assistant earlier this week, and he insisted at a press conference that he was not fired by Florida. But Gates is also set to get a much smaller salary from the Cornhuskers than he was in line to earn at Florida, and there’s no comparison between Florida’s prestige as a men’s basketball program and Nebraska’s —especially given that Florida had more NCAA Tournament wins this March than Nebraska has ever had in its history.
And, well, there was also this tweet from Gates:
I FEEL GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Armon Gates (@coachagates) May 10, 2018
Quoting James Brown in ALL CAPS on social media is something we should all probably consider doing from time to time. But when done after a seemingly acrimonious departure from a previous job, it certainly won’t throw cold water on any embers of resentment.
Obviously, the best-case scenario for all parties involved is enough success to make this story a footnote in those parties’ lives. But we don’t get to see whether that success will come to pass for months at a minimum, and the interim is unlikely to be anything but the sort of vacuum nature abhors.