We all knew Nate Oats wasn’t going to stay at UB forever. He brought Buffalo men’s basketball to new heights in the four years he was head coach. But did he have to leave the way that he did?
He has multiple MAC championships, multiple NCAA tournament appearances and wins, and he produced two of the greatest players in school history. Still, it wasn’t enough.
Oats wanted more. He wanted national championships, he wanted money, he wanted a school that would give him everything he wanted.
He wanted Alabama.
“I was a high school math teacher six years ago, so it’s not all about the money for us,” Oats told reporters after his introductory press conference at Alabama. “Obviously the money doesn’t hurt. But I’d like to play for national championships. We can get to the Final Four here.”
Really Nate, it’s not about the money? You wouldn’t be able to go to a Final Four here or win a national championship?
Nate, you signed a five-year extension less than two weeks before leaving. It would’ve made you the highest paid public employee in New York at $837,000 per season. Now you’re going to earn $2.462 million, receive use of two cars through a local dealership, a country club membership and Alabama is covering all moving expenses. But it’s not about the money.
Oats walked onto the UB campus last Wednesday like he didn’t know he was leaving. He took a private jet with his family to Tuscaloosa that afternoon and was introduced as the head coach on Thursday.
The news of Oats’ departure broke on Twitter around 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Oats’ players were informed by the athletic department in a meeting at the same time, according to The Buffalo News. Not by their former coach.
Oats has repeatedly spoken about his support for the city and how people don’t understand how great it is. Earlier in March, he was on the Jim Rome Show and spoke about how he’s never had a problem recruiting here.
So then why couldn’t you win that championship here? If you have no issues recruiting here, then why can’t we build a national championship team? You were about to bring in one of, if not the best recruiting class in history.
Buffalo has already lost two recruits and assistant coach Bryan Hodgson.
Hodgson would stay at UB only if he became the head coach, otherwise the WNY native was on the same plane to Alabama. Initially, he was in the running but pictures posted on Sunday of him in Alabama gear with Oats on a recruiting trip indicate otherwise.
Fans and donors like Tunney Murchie wanted Hodgson to stay because he could “save” the recruiting class and continue our success. I say let him leave.
Buffalo needs a new coach and an escape from the Oats years. No more blue-collar shirts, no more hard-hat award, just basketball with no gimmicks attached.
For the first time in his position, athletic director Mark Alnutt will have to make a tough decision. If the coach hired by UB is unable to keep a similar level of success to Oats, then UB Athletics is back in the same position it was six years ago.
Goodbye, Nate. Thank you for making my time covering UB hoops a wild ride and making my undergrad years a little more exciting, but I’ll still be rooting for UB if our teams play.
Nathaniel Mendelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NateMendelson