Now that the season has concluded for the Lady Gators basketball team, the search for the next head coach has begun in Gainesville. Whoever this person may be will take over a program that only won nine games in '06-'07, including only three SEC victories during the season.
Now, Jeremy Foley is the type of AD that will set his sights fairly high -- so I'd expect to see a few big names pop up, even if they aren't at all interested in taking over the position. This person would more than likely be a coach at a very successful women's program, and will probably be one considered an "up and comer" in the women's basketball world.
An example of this would be LSU's Pokey Chatman, a young head coach who has built quite a program in Baton Rouge in only three full seasons of leading it.
Today Chatman stepped down from her position at LSU in order to pursue "other career opportunities," a move that has many in Gainesville thinking Foley has dished out the cash that would bring her here.
"I appreciate the opportunities afforded me at LSU and the cooperation of the University in allowing me to pursue other career opportunities."
The acquisition of Chatman as head coach would be a huge one for the University of Florida athletics overall, as she brings a very long list of accomplishments in a very short time.
In fact, in Chatman's first 50 games as a head coach, she won an astonishing 47 times. That record of 47-3 is the second best record after 50 games in women's basketball history.
This past season Chatman guided LSU to a 31-4 mark, including a perfect 15-0 record at home and 11 wins against top 25 opponents. In her first season in 2004-05, Chatman led the Lady Tigers to a 33-3 record with the program's best regular season record of 27-1. That season the Lady Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the polls for 11 weeks between November and March.
This season the Tigers are ranked #12 nationally and are once again a strong squad heading into March Madness. They have a 26-7 record overall on the season, continually competing with most of the top programs in the nation.
This is all just speculation, but has caught fire over the course of the day. If it ends up being true, I wouldn't be surprised at all. Once again I feel that this would be a huge pickup for a program that is looking to get back on the right track and bring a winner to the fans in Gainesville.
Update [2007-3-8 15:27:50 by Mark]:As I said it's only speculation when I say that Florida has anything to do with this situation. Apparently now there are rumors going around that Chatman resigned for some issues other than coaching at a new school.
Yesterday she stated she would close out the season. Well today she decided to leave immediately, prompting us to believe that a coaching change is not the reason -- or maybe LSU is outcasting her because of it?
Who knows. I don't want to continually think that Florida has anything to do with it, because chances are they don't.
Update [2007-3-8 17:23:43 by Mark]:The Sun reported today that UF athletics officials have stated that they are not actively pursuing Chatman for the vacant head coaching position.