So now that the Billy Donovan saga has finally ended, and everyone on both sides is making nice and saying all the right things, we wanted to comment on any residual effects that may result from this whole fiasco. On the college basketball side of things, critics of Donovan have stated that the man as a coach has put forth an image that he can no longer be trusted, and that this will ultimately manifest in his recruiting. Gregg Doyel at cbssportsline.com writes:
Donovan didn’t just think about leaving. He didn’t just try to leave. He left. He came back, true, but if he was willing to leave Florida once — after promising recruits like Jai Lucas that he wouldn’t leave this offseason — what’s to stop him from leaving again? That’s not just me wondering. That’ll be the subtle spiel of every coach who recruits against Donovan, and I’m not sure that would be categorized as “unfair negative recruiting.” It would be more accurate to call that “reality.”
On the NBA side of things, critics are saying that he’ll be akin to kryptonite should he ever hope to follow his dream to coach in the NBA again. One exec from a Varsity Conference team said:
“It’s not going to leave a good taste in the mouths of a lot of people. People in the league already were asking last week, ‘What did he do to deserve a contract like that?’ And now this; it really casts a doubt about his intentions.”
Harkening back to our long-lost legal education and in the spirit of Donovan’s last seven days, we both concur and dissent with these viewpoints. The NBA issue is a no-brainer – any NBA executive will have to take a long, hard look at whether he wants to risk dealing with Donovan in the future. Thanks to what is effectively a five-year moratorium on Donovan taking another NBA job, however, this will allow ample time for hard feelings and raw nerves to diminish. If the situation arises where a true “dream job” such as the Knicks or Lakers opens after that time, then we’d still expect Donovan to get that call. This assumes, of course, that the next five years at Florida do not turn into some post-apocalyptic disaster where his coaching abilities are called into question as in the early 2000s.
Christine Donovan is much happier today
And what of the University of Florida, who rewarded Donovan’s insouciance today with a contract worth $3.5M per year for the next six seasons (plus an option for the seventh). As much as it may seem elementary to believe what Doyel says about other coaches using this against Donovan in the future, and no doubt they will try, we see another more powerful side to this argument. Instead of worries about whether Donovan will be around at UF in the near future, we now know with near-certainty that he will be in Gainesville for the next five years. He already turned down his dream college job and a near-perfect NBA situation, and is additionally barred from seeking another NBA job. Where else can he realistically go? If anything, this provides an incredible stability around his program that almost no other coach in America can claim. As such, Donovan may actually be returning to Florida in a stronger recruiting situation than he otherwise would have enjoyed had he never left in the first place. How crazy is that? Whether that will translate into more Final Fours and national titles is impossible to know.
Our (hopefully) final thought on the matter is that we’re quite pleased that Billy D was keeping tabs on our blog while he was in his solitary confinement at home the past few days. :)
I said I can’t do this and live with myself for the next two to three years. I don’t know if the press conferences should have been flip-flopped or not (Orlando second and Florida first), but my heart wasn’t into it.
It wasn’t that something happened with my wife, or Jeremy Foley guilt-tripped me or something that the Magic did upset me or there was a problem with (Magic general manager) Otis Smith or the way Christine’s face looked in a photo on the Internet at the press conference.
Everyone wants to put a reason as to why something happened. I’m terribly sorry for what happened, and I take responsibility for it. But this is a Billy Donovan issue, not a Christine Donovan or Jeremy Foley or (Orlando Magic president) Bob Vander Weide or (Magic owner) Rich DeVos issue.