Kentucky's Decision Is Billy Gillispie's Loss; Is It Anthony Grant's Gain?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IMarch 27, 2009

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 12:  Head coach Billy Gillispie of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts to a call during the game against the Ole Miss Rebels during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 12, 2009 at The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It's official: Billy Gillispie has officially been shown the door after two years as basketball coach at the University of Kentucky.

Guess losing to VMI and Gardner-Webb will not endear you to the Wildcat community.  Twenty-seven losses in just a couple campaigns won't help your cause, either.

This parting of ways throws a major wrench in the coaching carousel, and while everyone sits and thinks about who the future coach of one of the most historic programs of all-time will be, I am already thinking an extra step ahead.

This decision will not just send shock waves throughout the country; it will fundamentally shift the SEC. Why?


What happens if Florida coach Billy Donovan becomes the next Kentucky coach? 

One source already claims it as fact, and others will soon. It simply makes too much sense.

Sure, now a claim has been made by Donovan that he is "committed" to the program and the Gator Athletic Department is determined to make sure Donovan's name is not mentioned anywhere except at Florida.

Still, this guy did change his mind on the Orlando Magic in a flash.  It is hard to know just what to believe as reports come in every minute.

Donovan has two national championships to his credit, and I think the offer to him from UK would be tempting. Billy's tenure with the Gators has run its course, and he could return to much fanfare to the Bluegrass state (at least until he loses to VMI).


The question is, what if it does happen? What will the Florida Gators do in response?


They'll steal the hottest coaching candidate out there, that's what they'll do. They'll snatch Anthony Grant.

Grant, currently coach of VCU, was nearly offered the job in 2007, when Donovan took the Orlando Magic job for a New York minute. Florida's Athletic Director was in Richmond to make the offer before word came that Donovan was returning.

Odds are that three regular-season Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) titles, two NCAA tournament appearances and a victory over Duke have greatly inflayed Foley's opinion of Grant.

A longtime assistant for the Florida program, Grant would almost certainly take the job and return to his home state.


And that would leave Alabama as the prom date that got stood up. The Crimson Tide have officially offered their opening to Grant, but he's been silent, waiting to see if the dominoes would play out just like they have. So where do they go from here? 

Of course, Georgia is still waiting to find someone to take over their program after their mid-year firing. The Bulldogs have been rather quiet during this entire process, leaving potential candidates to pure speculation at this point.


Then, there is LSU. Their coach, Trent Johnson, has only been at the school a year and brought them to the NCAA Tournament.

Yet  numerous reports say that Johnson may be ready to bolt after just one year at the program. The fact that this past season's team featured five seniors and a possible early departure for the NBA would certainly ease the decision of whether or not to stay.

Money might help him decide, too; the reports are that the University of Virginia is willing to pay $2-3 million per year for their next coach. 

Plus, Johnson is good friends with Jon Oliver, second-in-command on the UVA coaching search committee behind Craig Littlepage. And having coached for quite some time at Stanford, Trent is used to rigorous academic standards and may jump ship if given the offer.


Confused yet? You should be.

In summary, Kentucky's decision is not the end of an era, but instead actually the beginning of sheer and utter chaos in a conference that could use a bit of a makeover after only getting three teams into the field of 64.

Even if Donovan does not change his mind, Kentucky will be putting forth a strong campaign to tackle some of the biggest names in our sport. 

I don't know how this soap opera I like to call "As the SEC World Turns" but stay tuned, it should be entertaining.