Billy Donovan to UK: Strange Sense of Deja VuPosted by rtmsf on March 27th, 2009
Nearly two years ago, immediately before the birth of this blog, rumors were rampant that Billy Donovan was ready to leave his two-time defending national champion Gators for the greener bluer pastures of Kentucky after Tubby Smith hightailed it out of Lexington for points northward. Wildcat fans were tracking planes online, spotters were lurking around the airport, and everyone in town knew someone who knew someone who was sure they’d seen Donovan rolling around Lexington with the blue mist behind him.
Of course, they were all dead wrong, and UK only got their man – another Billy (Gillispie) – after all the Donovan hysteria died down and he publicly stated he wasn’t interested in the job. Now, despite admonitions to the contrary, it appears that their second-choice Billy will be shown the door – actually, has already been shown the door – by Kentucky brass. That’s not really in question anymore. The bigger query we have is who will UK get to resurrect their foundering program?
Based on our sources in the area as well as some circumstantial evidence and a sprinkling of conject… logic, it is our contention that Billy Donovan will saddle up and take the job this time around.
First of all, the same justifications for Donovan taking the Kentucky job in 2007 are still relevant in 2009 – tradition, basketball school, higher salary, devoted fanbase. Nothing has changed in that regard. What has changed is where Florida basketball was then, coming off B2B titles, versus now – two straight NIT appearances have taken quite a bit of the luster off the Gator program to the point where empty seats are a regular occurrence at the O’Connell Center. He must realize by now that he’s taken Florida basketball as far as it can possibly go, and with Urban Meyer down the hall winning titles just as frequently in the sport they really care about in Gainesville, it’s extremely unlikely he’ll ever reach that white-hot pinnacle again. Ultimately, the time for a change is much more understandable for Donovan now than it was two years ago.
Now, let’s look at what we feel is the biggest piece of circumstantial evidence. We’ve all heard for most of the week that Alabama is ready and in fact may have already offered Anthony Grant of VCU big money to become the next head coach of the Crimson Tide. Considering that the Bama offer ($2M+) would more than double his current offer at VCU ($1M), and the additional fact that Alabama has traditionally had a solid basketball program, why wouldn’t he have already accepted this offer? What on earth could he be waiting on?
Oh, right. Could it be the possibility probability of his former boss (Donovan) leaving Florida to take the Kentucky job, thereby leaving open the UF job that he was supposed to get two years ago when Donovan took the Orlando Magic job? You scoff, saying ‘isn’t that risky to put a lot of faith on a maybe?’ Well, maybe. Then again, maybe not, considering that Donovan and Grant have the same agent (Lonnie Cooper), who is 99.9% likely to have his fingerprints all over these deals.
We’ve also heard from several reliable sources in Lexington that a deal for Donovan to become the next UK coach is already in place, and will be announced as soon as Friday but more likely, Monday. You combine all of this information into one ball of speculative conjecture, and it seems pretty clear to us…
Billy Donovan is the new coach at the University of Kentucky, and Anthony Grant takes over at Florida.