Please Don't Go!: An Open Letter to Billy Donovan

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IMarch 28, 2009

ST. LOUIS - MARCH 25:  Head coach Billy Donovan of the Florida Gators cuts down the net after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the midwest regionals of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Edward Jones Dome on March 25, 2007 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Dear Coach Donovan,

I know you have already denied interest in taking the Kentucky Wildcats' head coaching job, but you and I both know that that is the typical generic statement made by every coach who is rumored to be switching teams.

I am writing you this letter, on the behalf of the Gator Nation, to ask you not the leave the University of Florida. If only you knew how much the Florida faithful love you.

Granted, coaching the Wildcats certainly has its perks. Kentucky is arguably the best head-coaching job in America because of its winning tradition and passionate fan base.

In addition, with a smart, high-profile coach like you, combined with the rich history of Kentucky basketball, the nation's top recruits would come flooding into Lexington at an alarming rate.

However, the situation will be demanding and rough. Of course, I don't have to tell you that. You worked as an assistant coach for the Wildcats on Rick Pitino's staff from 1989-1994. You know the expectations of Kentucky fans.

But it will be much worse now. Billy Gillespie was fired after only two seasons on the job. While Gillespie didn't do much to keep his job, that's still a ridiculously short leash to work on. He didn't even have time to unpack his stuff before leaving.

But the blue-and-white faithful are desperate to reclaim their national prominence and something tells me that they are not going to be patient at all.

The allure of the job may be tempting, but remember that Kentucky is still rebuilding. While the talent is unbelievable, the program is currently in an ambiguous state. The All-SEC duo of Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson is downright frightening to opponents—I get that.

But Florida offers you something that Kentucky can never aspire to. No matter what you do at Kentucky, you will never be the face of the program.

Your success will always be measured against the careers of Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, and your mentor Pitino.

Conversely, in Gainesville, you are Adolph Rupp. Every coach who will ever patrol the Gator sideline will be held to your standard. I know, the basketball arena does not adorn your name, but it might as well. You are Florida Gators basketball.

No one will ever forget the improbable Final Four appearance with Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem in 2000. Even though you lost the national championship to Michigan State, it was a monumental season that the Gator Nation cherishes to this day.

As for the success with the Oh-Fours—indescribable. You once again brought the Gators to the pinnacle of college basketball not only once, but twice. Thank you for your invaluable role in making Gainesville "Againesville."

In Lexington, if you reach the Final Four, the Wildcat faithful will be happy, but unfortunately, you'll probably be taken for granted. Undoubtedly, you will be honored, and deservedly so, as one of the many great coaches of Kentucky basketball.

However, at the University of Florida, you will always be known as the greatest basketball coach in school history. You are, and will always be, the face of Florida Gators basketball.

Whether you decide to stay at Florida or venture to Kentucky, I wish you the best of luck, except for when your success would jeopardize the Gators' season. Hopefully, I'll never have to pull against you.

Coach, we love you right where you are at the University of Florida. We would love to have you for a while, if you don't mind. We're waiting with open arms.


Best Regards,

Joseph Morgan