I dreaded it….hoped it wouldnt come true….but deep down, I just knew this was going to happen all year. This was the season that Florida was supposed to win the title. I still contend that last year Florida was more fortunate than they were good (if UCONN doesnt choke to George Mason, the Huskies win it all), but this year they were very good and they have won the title that they deserved to win. Ohio St was, to channel Denny Green, exactly who we thought they were…..a good but not great team, who fell behind early and were never able to shorten the comfortable margin that the Gators created. Ohio State could be a legitimate title contender next year, but only if Oden stays…..and it would be silly for him to do that. All along this season, I contended that there were two teams that could have given Florida a legitimate run in the tournament, Kansas and North Carolina. However both of those teams gagged before they could get to the Gators, and thus Florida was able to cruise once again.
The debate will now rage as to what the Gators place in history should be. They become only the seventh team in history to repeat (after lumping all those UCLA repeats together) and the first since 1992. In repeating, they did something that the 95 Arkansas and 97 Kentucky teams could not do. However they did so with the exact same team as they had the year before…..an amazing accomplishment in the era of early NBA defections. Many will want to label this one of the great teams of all time. I dont buy it, in large part because I think they were fortunate in each year to miss the two other best teams come tournament time. Plus, they were defeated both years by bad teams in embarrassing ways, including a rout to Tennessee and more embarassingly, a bad loss to LSU without Big Baby. Great teams lose games…..but never badly and never after quitting or being humiliated. Nevertheless, I dont mean to sound like an old fogey…..the Gators deserve a LOT of credit. They had the bullseye on their back and they brought home a title. Billy D and the Gators are a special team and the makeup of the roster is truly special.
And it is important to recognize what an accomplishment this is for Donovan. This is a 41 year old guy….and he already has two titles….at a football school no less. I had a coach three years ago, back when the view that Donovan was a lackluster tournament coach was in vogue, tell me “Billy Donovan can become one of the five best coaches of all time.” That seemed odd at the time, but now it seems prophetic. Whether at Florida or Kentucky, Donovan is THE STAR in college coaching now, with only Coach K on his radar screen. And he is only 41…..very, very impressive.
And lets not forget what an accomplishment this is for the Gators as well. The Gators have won the last three NCAA major sports championships. That is simply astounding. Athletic Director Jeremy Foley deserves to be in the Athletic Director Hall of Fame and if he is able to keep Donovan in Gainesville, they may need to name it after him. To win two straight basketball championships while holding onto the football championship….not only unprecedented, but maybe never to be repeated.
And with that, lets go to what we really care about…..
(1) I expect Tuesday to be filled with rumors, stories and urban legends. But the reality of the situation in my view is that Wednesday will be the day that we start to get real news. Donovan, if he doesnt make a statement after I go to bed tonight, will likely celebrate for a day and then go about the process of making a decision. I have no idea what will happen….but whatever will happen will happen quick.
UPDATE: Donovan was asked about the future and he essentially said this (may not be word for word):
“I just got off the court, I’m gonna enjoy the moment right now.All that stuff will be addressed, but now is not the time. It was a good try though”
And he also said this (although the context is unclear):
What gives me peace is when I can walk away from something . . .with no regrets
(2) I continue to hear that four coaches or their representatives have been spoken with outside of Donovan. My best guesses, and these are educated guesses based on the info and conversations I have had, are Wright, Gillispie, Barnes and another random (Few?). Gillispie and Barnes continue to be the names that I hear most often.
(3) Lots of former UK players are going around telling anyone and everyone that the UK deal with Donovan is done. Rick Robey has been named as the source of much of this information, as it seems as if you believe the message boards, he seems to be talking to just about the entire world at this point.
(4) I hope you saw the post-game interview….Joakim Noah kept saying “We gonna do it big….you dont know what that is, but my boys know what I’m talkin about.” I know what you are talking about Joakim Noah, and I gotta tell you…..you should keep that to yourself. But Noah should be required to talk after every game…..it certainly makes me laugh. And then Corey Brewer just screamed random words so loud that Billy put his arm on him with a “please pipe down and dont look silly” look on his face. Still though, no hating by me…..they are happy and they should be. Amazing accomplishment.
(5) Is it bad that “The Hills” kept my attention better tonight than the title game? I mean it was the season finale……but ultimately a mediocre game to end a relatively bad tournament. Better luck next year.
(6) And kudos to CBS for recognizing that the real stars of the tournament were the Oregon Cheerleaders…..two shots during “One Shining Moment”……thats what I am talking about…..
Billy will get asked either tonight or tomorrow about UK…..we shall see what he says. Until then, the next four days will be something…..stay tuned……