Florida's Billy Donovan Needs To Either Go or Stop the Rumors

Jim FolsomContributorMarch 23, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 18:  Head coach Billy Donovan of the Florida Gators looks on as he coaches against the BYU Cougars during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men�s basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 18, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I suppose it's flattering. It's nice to be asked. Billy Donovan sure gets his fair share of flattery.

First it was the Grizzlies.

Then it was Kentucky.

Then it was the Magic which he actually took, for a few days.

Then it was Kentucky again.

Now it's St. John's and Oregon. Who knows, maybe Seton Hall will throw their hat in the ring too.

Each time somebody asks. Donovan, either trying to be polite or actually being the smart businessman and listening to all offers, appears to be at least interested in moving. And while that may not be a big deal in other professions, in college coaching it can come back to hurt you.

Coaching is a very cutthroat game. In college there is no draft. There is no territorial lines like in high school where you get the kids who live near the school and you make due with what you get.

In college every player is up for grabs. So if it appears you are a waffler, other coaches will use that against you. Don't think it hasn't been done already.

Florida is coming off three pretty mediocre seasons. But things are finally starting to look up again. Now is not a good time for speculation about whether or not Donovan will be back next year.

The nation's No. 1 recruit has the Gators on his short list. Brandon Knight would make UF a Final Four contender next year. While this kid is still undecided, Florida doesn't need a bunch of gossip going on about St John's.

If the kid comes out and picks Kentucky, then you can entertain other offers. There won't be that much at risk. But not right now.

Three years ago, Florida was trying to rebuild after losing the entire team. They put together a stellar recruiting class, ranked No. 1 by rivals.com. But when Donovan did his Magic disappearing act and then changed his mind, it cost him Patrick Patterson. Patterson added to that class likely would have kept the train rolling right along.

However, when Adam Allen suffered career threatening knee injuries, losing Patterson and Jai Lucas transferred, that class became a bit more ordinary, not to mention small (as in not many bigs). The Gators then became a bubble team. Any recruiting bounce off the national titles was quickly gone.

Undoubtedly, rival coaches got into players like Patterson's ear and questioned whether or not Donovan would be around for their entire careers. Jai Lucas came out and said as much.

Florida does not need this now. Not with World Wide Wes out there.

If Donovan really wants a new challenge, then he needs to go now. If not, then shut these people up quickly. He needs to not hamstring Florida anymore than he already has.


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