Home Other Local Colleges Buffalo conducts uninspiring search, hiring Jim Whitesell

Buffalo conducts uninspiring search, hiring Jim Whitesell

18254
1
17 March 2016: Associate Head Coach Jim Whitesell of the Buffalo Bulls talks to the team during a time out. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

DISCLAIMER: I believe Jim Whitesell is a solid coach who has an opportunity to be very successful leading the Bulls. This article is focused on Buffalo’s search to replace former head coach Nate Oats after he left for Alabama.

BUFFALO, NY – Jim Whitesell is a great person, coach and teacher.

He played a crucial role, game-planning and leading the Bulls defense the past four years under Nate Oats.

MANHATTAN, KS – NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Jim Whitesell of the Loyola Chicago Ramblers give some instructions to guard Aric Van Weelden #12 during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 13, 2009 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Whitesell has plenty of head coaching experience, leading Loyola (Illinois) to a 109-106 record from 2004 through 2011 following stops at Lewis and Elmhurst.

He clearly knows the game of basketball and has been all over the country teaching it.

But he wasn’t the right man for the job.

Not because he wasn’t qualified and not because he won’t be successful.

Whitesell wasn’t the right man to be the next head coach at Buffalo because he never should’ve been a candidate in the first place.

It’s my belief that he became the Bulls choice after a series of misfires during their coaching search.

The first of which was never seriously considering former assistant Bryan Hodgson for the position.

Hodgson was Buffalo’s leading recruiter the past four years, the man responsible for their incoming recruiting class and the majority of their current roster.

If you’re preaching continuity, he’s the first person athletic director Mark Alnutt should’ve looked at. 

CLEVELAND, OH – MARCH 10: Buffalo Bulls associate head coach Jim Whitesell and Buffalo Bulls head coach Nate Oats react to a Bulls basket during the second half of the MAC Mens Basketball Tournament Championship game between the Toledo Rockets and Buffalo Bulls on March 10, 2018, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. Buffalo defeated Toledo 76-66 to win the MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament and and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For one reason or another, it appears he wasn’t even an option. There’s been plenty of social media speculation that he abandoned the Bulls, recruiting with Oats at Alabama while still employed at Buffalo but I have reason to believe the situation went down much differently than what’s been speculated.

Regardless, Alnutt still had a chance to move forward.

With Hodgson out of the picture, it was all but a guarantee that the majority of their recruiting class would decommit and that’s exactly what happened.

First it was Andre Allen. Then Raymond Hawkins followed Oats to Alabama. Days later, Noah Williams decided to re-open his search. Then on Friday, Durey Cadwell and James Rojas followed him, leaving the Bulls with zero incoming recruits.

All of this took place while a search firm hired by the university was taking their time vetting candidates.

Their rumored list was impressive, including names like Rob Lanier, Chris Caputo, Carlin Hartman, Luke Murray and Dane Fife.

But as each day passed, things started falling apart.

Lanier took the head coaching job at Georgia State. Fife got in a Twitter battle with local Bulls reporter Kevin Massare (contributes to From the 300 Level and Trainwreck Sports) while there was mostly radio silence surrounding the other names.

17 March 2016: Associate Head Coach Jim Whitesell of the Buffalo Bulls lectures the players. The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Bulls 79-72 in the first round of the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence Rhode Island. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Saturday morning, it appeared the Bulls were primed to hire an assistant still coaching in the Final Four. What other reason would Alnutt have not to make a hire while the program was losing recruits left and right?

It had to be someone that was currently unavailable.

Which is why I was flabbergasted on Saturday afternoon when I saw Buffalo was hiring Jim Whitesell to be their next head coach.

It came out of left field. 

First, I couldn’t believe he was seriously considered for the job despite inheriting the interim tag once Oats left.

Second, I couldn’t believe Hodgson wasn’t their guy if they were sticking with an internal candidate.

Third, I couldn’t believe they waited two weeks to promote someone from within while losing their entire recruiting class.

No other conclusion can be made other than Mark Alnutt fudged this search in his first major challenge since being named the Buffalo Athletic Director.

It’s my belief that he wanted to bring in a big name, an outside candidate that could create some excitement for the Bulls fanbase.

But something had to have gone wrong. I’m not sure if any coaches turned down the job or caught Alnutt off guard but I can assure you that Whitesell was not their first choice.

17 March 2016: Associate Head Coach Jim Whitesell of the Buffalo Bulls draws out a play as Head Coach Nate Oats of the Buffalo Bulls looks on. The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Bulls 79-72 in the first round of the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence Rhode Island. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

If he was, Buffalo would’ve hired him immediately, which they clearly didn’t.

This was their backup plan. An attempt to protect their existing roster while trying to save face after a search gone wrong.

That doesn’t mean Whitesell won’t succeed.

He has a tremendous basketball IQ and will be a popular choice inside the Bulls locker room.

Whitesell has a massive task in front of him, needing to fill five open scholarships heading into mid-April.

Recruiting isn’t his main strength. That was Hodgson’s role. It’s the most important task for successful programs in modern day college basketball.

Whitesell will need to assemble a staff quickly and head to work.

He has a tremendous opportunity in front of him, one that I believe he can succeed in but he’s going to need some help.

Buffalo botched their search but with some luck, they may have backed their way into a decent hire.

Time will tell.

1 COMMENT

  1. Im sorry “Fife got in a Twitter battle with local Bulls reporter Kevin Massare”

    It was *one* snarky tweet aimed at K Mass which he then blew completely out of proportion. I’m 100% sure that outside of our local twitter sphere nobody in the world notices

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation

    Many thanks! I appreciate this.
    http://canadianpharmaciescubarx.com/
    online drugstore aarp approved canadian online pharmacies online pharmacies no prescription [url=http://canadianpharmacysilo.com/]online pharmacies of canada[/url]
    prescription cost comparison
    buy online prescription drugs
    international pharmacy
    most reliable canadian pharmacies
    buy prescription drugs without doctor
    canadian pharmacies that ship to us

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here