Even though he knew he'd look foolish and weak, Billy Donovan has abandoned the Orlando Magic to return to Florida. I get that.
What I don't understand is this: Why would Florida take him back?
|Billy Donovan might have a nasty surprise in his future at Florida. (Getty Images)|
Rollie Massimino was a national champion at Villanova in 1985 when he verbally accepted a job offer from the New Jersey Nets. Massimino changed his mind hours before he would be officially introduced as the Nets' coach, but he already had advised New Jersey in the 1985 NBA Draft. The news was out that he had decided to leave Villanova.
Massimino stayed, but his program was never the same. After reaching the Elite Eight three times in four years, capped by that NCAA title in 1985, Villanova was under .500 in 1987 and a fringe NCAA Tournament team, if not an NIT team, until Massimino left for UNLV in 1992. Villanova didn't return to national prominence for nearly 15 years.
That was 1985. In 1993 Bobby Cremins left Georgia Tech for South Carolina, keeping the job for three days before returning to Atlanta. Cremins was rejoining a program at its apex -- Georgia Tech had reached nine straight NCAA Tournaments -- but he proceeded to lead it into the toilet. After those nine straight bids, the Jackets made just one more NCAA appearance in seven years before Cremins was gently pushed out.
Georgia Tech's demise can be traced to the exact moment Cremins (almost) left. Why is that? I'll tell you in a second, but first we have more history to review.
In 1995 Glen Mason crippled Kansas football. He had led the Jayhawks to a 10-2 mark that season before accepting the Georgia job. One week later he reneged, returning to Kansas and going 4-7 in 1996. Minnesota, run by idiots, hired Mason anyway. So it worked out for Mason. But for Kansas? After Mason's dalliance with Georgia, the Jayhawks suffered nine straight losing seasons.
Why? I'll tell you, but there's more history to review.
In 2002 Dan Dakich won 24 games at Bowling Green, then left for West Virginia. After uncovering all kinds of slime there, he returned to Bowling Green -- where he had four losing seasons in the next five years before resigning this spring.
The only coach who flip-flopped and didn't leave behind a mess was Winthrop's Gregg Marshall, who backed out on the College of Charleston last year. Winthrop had another huge season in 2006-07, but one year isn't enough to judge a flip-flopper's effects. And now Marshall has left for Wichita State. Plus Winthrop's in an easy league.
Florida? The Gators are in the SEC, which is about to become brutal again. The SEC's not the slumping giant it was four years ago when Donovan was amassing the talent that would win two straight NCAA championships. Underachieving Tubby Smith has left Kentucky, bequeathing one of the top jobs in basketball to Billy Gillispie -- who is going to win huge at Kentucky. He won't just win there, or win big there. Huge.
Tennessee is rolling now with Bruce Pearl, and as long as he's there the Volunteers are going to be a threat not just in the conference, but nationally.