San Francisco head coach Todd Golden applauds his team during the first half of a college basketball game against Murray State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Florida Expected to Hire San Francisco’s Todd Golden as Next Men’s Basketball Head Coach

The Florida Gators Men’s basketball team is expected to hire San Francisco‘s head coach Todd Golden per multiple reports. ESPN’s Pete Thamel was the first to report the news.

As soon as No. 10 San Francisco lost to No. 7 Murray State, the Gators were after Golden, determined to name him the next head coach of Gators Men’s basketball. The process is expected to go down quickly after the Dons suffered this loss in the tournament. According to CBS Sports, Golden will sign a six-year deal with Florida.

White’s Departure

Florida’s previous Head Coach Mike White announced he was leaving the Gators to coach for the Georgia Bulldogs on March 13. He is replacing Tom Crean who struggled to lead the Bulldogs in a tough season. White had some early success at Florida but has since plateaued with an overall 142-88 record throughout seven seasons.

With tough shoes to fill, White replaced legendary Head Coach Billy Donovan in 2015. Donovan led the Gators to two national titles and left a lasting impression on the prominence of Florida’s basketball program. He continued on to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder until 2020 when he took the job as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Since Donovan’s departure, the Gators basketball program has struggled to maintain the national prominence it once held.

Golden’s Coaching Career

Golden is a 36-year-old from Phoenix who began playing college ball as a walk-on for Saint Mary’s under Head Coach Randy Bennett. He worked his way up to play on scholarship and serve as the captain of the team. Golden continued to play professionally in Israel’s highest division for Maccabi Haifa for two seasons. Two years later he made the transition to coaching.

Golden led the Dons to a 24-10 record on the season which gained them the No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Under Golden, San Francisco received their first NCAA tournament bid since 1998. During his three seasons with San Francisco, Golden amassed a 57-36 record.

Prior to taking the head coaching job at San Francisco in 2017, Golden filled assistant coaching roles at Auburn, Columbia, and San Francisco. His time at Auburn makes him an attractive candidate for Florida as he has two years of experience working in the SEC from 2014 to 2016.

Why Florida’s Interested

According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Florida officials became impressed with Golden due to his fluency in analytics, ability to connect with young athletes, and his promising innovative ideas.  Golden aligns with the character of prior young, successful coaches who left their mark on the Gators basketball program.

Additionally, Florida executive AD Jay Jacobs was the Auburn AD when Golden worked under Head Coach Bruce Pearl during his time with the Tigers.

Golden’s San Francisco Dons rose as a top 25 defensive team according to KenPom statistics as the team excelled in defensive possessions and three-point defense. The Dons managed impressive wins over Arizona State, Davidson, and UAB.

Additionally, the team has faced top-tier coaches in the West Coast Conference such as Mark Few of Gonzaga, Mark Pope of BYU, Randy Bennett of Saint Mary’s, as well as Herb Sendek of Santa Clara. The experience of competing against high-caliber coaches will prove useful in transition to the competitive nature that SEC basketball presents.

Florida joins five other SEC programs in the search for a new head coach. Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi State, and LSU also remain without a coach.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin wants to find the perfect fit for the Gators basketball program. It seems Golden may be the man for the job.

About Ellie Shreve

Ellie is a third-year sports and media journalism major at the University of Florida.

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