These are my people -- Florida's my alma mater -- but they've lost their minds.
|Billy Donovan likely will be losing his top six players if he stays at Florida. (AP)|
Do you understand why Florida is such a good job? Because Donovan's the one who has it.
Put anyone else in that office -- say, Lon Kruger -- and Florida fades. Kruger went to one Final Four but when he left in 1996, the Gators were coming off 17-13 and 12-16 seasons. Kruger's no slouch. Check out his current UNLV team, which won 30 games. He won at Kansas State. He won at Illinois. But he was 29-29 his last two years at Florida.
Norm Sloan won a national title at North Carolina State. Florida was so easy that he made it to the NCAA Tournament just three times in 15 seasons, and to get those three bids he had to wade knee-deep in NCAA violations.
The day Donovan showed up in 1996, Florida was not a great job. By the time Florida made its NCAA Tournament debut in 1987, Kentucky had won five national championships. Kentucky has won two more since then.
Yes, Florida won a national title last year. And Florida probably will win it again this year. That makes Donovan a great, great great coach, and because of him, Florida is now a great job.
But better than Kentucky? Come on. The Wildcats have had one losing season since 1927. One.
Kentucky fans have taken heat this week over the gutless scurrying of Tubby Smith to Minnesota, but UK has the best support in the country. Midnight Madness fills 23,000-seat Rupp Arena. Every game is a sellout. Thousands travel, including to the 2007 SEC Tournament at Atlanta, where a so-so UK team led by an unpopular coach had a significantly bigger turnout than defending national champion Florida. Only 500 fans followed Florida to New Orleans for the NCAA Tournament, by the way.
Kentucky is such a good job that, despite its uncharismatic coach and unhappy fans and back-to-back mediocre seasons (for Kentucky), the Wildcats are among the final two or three schools for stud Class of 2007 recruits Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas. Another finalist for those players was Florida, which found itself battling Kentucky on nearly even terms even with the charismatic Donovan, giddy fans and the 2006 NCAA title banner.
Kentucky's the better job in the long run, and the truth is, Kentucky might not be much worse in the short term. Not that Kentucky's in great shape right now. It isn't. Ten years after inheriting a cupboard of NBA talent from Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith leaves behind a roster of spiderwebs and broken dishes.
Kentucky's starting five next season looks like Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford and Jodie Meeks on the perimeter, inexperienced 7-foot-2 Jared Carter at center and 6-9 sophomore Perry Stevenson at power forward. That's not terrible, but it's not terribly attractive.