A New Era Begins
“Is Danny White the right hire?” is cautiously being whispered by Vols fans at every Hardees within 250 miles of Knoxville. Should we really have faith in Danny White to resurrect our program?
Based on his football hires to date, the answer is yes.
White has a history of landing winners. But more than that, he has a freakish ability to find coaches who stabilize, grow, and maintain winning programs.
For example, let’s look at the lone football hire he made while the AD at Buffalo, Lance Leipold.
Thinking Outside The Box
Leipold was brought in to course correct a program in a tailspin. The Bulls underperformed in the 2014 season and their head coach, Jeff Quinn, was relieved of his role after week 7 (3-4 record).
Leipold was already a proven winner with an incredible 109-6 record at Wisconsin-Whitewater and six Division-III championships on his resume (6-1 record in championship games).
Still, he wasn’t the obvious candidate, and the typically close-lipped White kept his name off the beat-writer radar until the eleventh hour.
How has Leipold performed at Buffalo?
The first two seasons were a difficult adjustment, but he started righting the ship in year three (6-6 overall record). From there, he began building a MAC powerhouse that has finished first in the East two of the last three years.
What’s most impressive, is the Bulls’ performance in conference play. Since 2018, Buffalo holds a 17-4 record in the Mid-American and looks poised to continue their dominance following a 6-1 2020 campaign.
Basically, Leipold is really good.
Not only did he revitalize a struggling program; he continues to get better. Without Danny White’s ability to think outside the box, Leipold probably never lands at Buffalo.
Finding The Right Fit
Another “home run hire” for White is obviously Scott Frost at UCF.
After the disastrous last season of the George O’Leary era in which the Knights went winless (0-12), White poached Frost from his OC position at Oregon to plug holes in a ship already underwater.
He did just that, and more.
Incredibly, Frost made a bowl game and went 6-6 in year one at UCF. From there, things got weird.
UCF set college football ablaze in 2017.
The Knights went 13-0, upset a traditional SEC power (Auburn) in the Peach Bowl, and even had some college football analysts clamoring for UCF to be co-national champions (the NCAA has since officially recognized them as co-national champions with Alabama).
Frost of course departed after the 2017 season for his dream job and alma mater Nebraska. Frost is definitely struggling to lead the Huskers, but maybe that makes Danny White’s hire even more impressive.
He didn’t view Frost as the right guy for a traditional powerhouse. White rightfully saw the balance of swag, energy, and lore needed to bring a mid-level program into the national conversation. (Don’t forget, White brought in Josh Heupel to replace Frost and despite a less than stellar 2020, his record at UCF still sits at 28-8)
Danny White understands his hires, finds the right guy and does it his way.
He doesn’t care what articles are written, or names are thrown into the ether of Twitter.
He hires coaches who win, and he seldom misses.
If history is any indication, Danny White will restore order to this once-proud program.