Davie Carmichael is a good hire for UB men’s soccer

UB men’s soccer’s in-house promotion was the right move

It was announced Tuesday  that UB’s men’s soccer program would promote former assistant coach Davie Carmichael to replace Stu Riddle as head coach. 

Riddle left UB for Northern Kentucky earlier this month after a highly successful four-year run as head coach. Replacing one of the most revered coaches at the school was not going to be an easy task, but Athletic Director Allen Greene has made the right choice.

Carmichael has been Riddle’s right-hand man in his two years at UB. The two have worked closely together and Carmichael deserves credit for the program’s recent culture shift, along with Riddle. The choice to promote Riddle’s protégé will likely be a popular one with the players.

Over the past four years, UB men’s soccer had caught wind of something special as Riddle molded a completely new crop of players to buy into the idea that they could create a returning contender in the Mid-American Conference in Buffalo. 

It appeared his plan was coming to fruition when the team rallied to a 12-4-3 record this past season and gained some traction both nationally and locally. But after suffering their second consecutive loss in the MAC Championship Game to Akron, Riddle was left to ponder how far this program could go the way it’s currently structured, and his decision to leave speaks volumes.

In an interview with The Buffalo News, Riddle admitted that he felt he couldn’t bring this program any further due to a lack of funding from UB’s athletic department. He also said he would like to move to a conference with a “level playing field,” a likely acknowledgement of Akron’s consistent superiority to the rest of the schools in MAC men’s soccer.

Akron has won the conference 11 times since 2004. Buffalo has dropped back-to-back MAC Championship Games to Akron and could not manage an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament despite a 12-4-3 record.

As long as Akron is around, it appears UB will have a tough time emerging from the MAC. Carmichael’s hire does nothing to change that. 

What it does do is preserve the culture created around the program and that should keep UB competitive immediately with a team that features eight rising seniors.

I expect the program to continue to be one of the most well-coached teams at the school. If Carmichael can channel the same level of ambition and comradery from the players that Riddle did, UB will presumably continue to be one of the better teams in the conference.

For now, the glass ceiling is set. There’s likely a limit to how far the men’s soccer team can go in their current situation. 

However, reaching that ceiling is an achievement in its own right and Carmichael can take them there. 

Michael Akelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at michael.akelson@ubspectrum.com