The old saying “You can never go home again” does not apply to Reggie Witherspoon. The likeable Witherspoon has returned to his hometown to coach the Canisius Golden Griffens and hopefully finish out his career doing what he loves to do in his own backyard.

College athletics is a very cliquish thing, relationships serve better than a resume. Reggie Witherspoon was the victim of that thinking when Danny White replaced him at UB with Bobby Hurley. White plucked Hurley out of the ranks of NCAA assistant coaches because of his career at Duke where White’s Dad is Athletic Director. Now Witherspoon returns to Buffalo because of his relationship with Canisius AD Bill Maher, formerly the interim AD at UB. Reggie Witherspoon has had success at Sweet Home, ECC and UB so I’m expecting the same at Canisius.

Reggie has always been a local favorite and his sudden release at UB by Danny White did not go over well with alumni. In fact, Reggie got “hosed” twice of sorts by UB. After Reggie was let go he was still collecting a salary as part of his contract. An opportunity to then remain in Buffalo and become Athletic Director at ECC, where he once coached, was blocked by UB claiming he would have to forgo the remainder of his severance salary. Witherspoon could not afford to walk away from the money owed him and eventually left town for an assistants job at Alabama.

Witherspoon knows that he will be fighting an uphill battle at Canisius. The Griffs had two strong seasons under Jim Baron while his son Billy played there, but have struggled since. Witherspoon will need to attract players who normally would pass Canisius by and use his local roots should a WNY product develop into a blue chipper. Much easier said than done.

Personally I think it’s a good move by Canisius and Bill Maher, bringing back a veteran coach with WNY roots. It’s similar to the hiring of Jim Baron, another great guy who appreciated being back in the Buffalo market. This is a move a school like Niagara should pay attention to.


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