FLORIDA GATORS BREAKING NEWS: WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT BILLY DONOVAN IS GONE
Florida Gators men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan was has not been easy to track down over the last two days, unless of course you are the President or Owner of the OKC Thunder. Donovan and The Oklahoma City Thunder have been in talks and negotiations for the better part of two days, and Donovan has let Jeremy Foley know his intentions. This should come as no surprise to Gator Nation as Donovan has had his eyes on the NBA for 6 years making the jump with the Orlando Magic only to jump back into Gainesville a couple of days later. The Oklahoma Thunder are one of two great fits for Donovan with Chicago being the other one. The contract is being signed as you read this, assuming you are reading this when the contract is actually being signed, but the news should be made public before the April showers bring May flowers. This decision is sure to have a ripple effect in the college basketball world, with some moves already taking place.
WHAT WILL FLORIDA DO? –
After crying like Nancy Kerrigan when she gets clubbed in the knee Gator Nation will look to fill the vacancy left by Donovan as quickly as possible. They will gaze out onto the horizon of the college basketball world in an attempt to lure away a big name, but they will surely come up empty handed. This program has nothing to look forward to, and a year removed from a final four appearance they have been surpassed by several SEC teams in recruiting and on the court results including Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Georgia (ewww… Georgia). Any coach big enough to be pursued will be making a lateral move at best to take over this program that is in disarray. In all of their mindless searching they will be overlooking the best option available currently in top assistant John Pelphrey. Pelphrey knows the system, can recruit as well as anyone and will likely be able to keep the nucleus of the team intact. He has proven he can recruit in the SEC and has been subsequently groomed by his best friend Donovan to take over the position once he leaves. Take note Gator Nation, you will have to start from scratch on this one, as Pelphrey goes up against the who’s who of coaches in the SEC including Bruce Pearl, Rick Barnes, Coach Cal, Avery Johnson, Ben Howland and Johnny Jones.
HOW WILL DONOVAN DO?
Donovan will do just fine. He’s inheriting a championship caliber team that is already one of the three best teams in the NBA when healthy. He talks to his college players as though they were 27 year old NBA veterans, so he’ll have no problem getting millionaire professional athletes to buy into his system. His work with the National Team and the fact he put so many big time players in the pros gives him instant credibility with the masses. The multi-million dollar question is why would Donovan jeopardize his legacy to deal with Millionaires, their wives and their agents? Is it as simple as just wanting to succeed at the next level? Surely it’s not about the Benjamins because Donovan was the King of Gainesville and could get whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Was he tired of dealing with pot smoking rule breakers who squandered once in a life time opportunities or meddling parents like Michael Frazier’s father who convinced his son to enter the draft when he has no shot at being drafted. Either way, whoever lands the next interview with Donovan that allows the general public to jump into his head for just a few moments will be worth their weight in media gold. At the end of the day Donovan gives up a legit chance at being the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history which clearly isn’t as prestigious to him as being a champion in both college and the in the NBA. So press on Billy D – you’ve done a great service to the school and the city, and although Gator Nation will be feeling the ache of this for years to come they will come back strong like Gators do.