What a week to decide to leave the country on vacation ...
I was a little flustered at the fact that Billy Donovan decided to bolt to the NBA a few days before I was set to leave, as I knew that the news stories would run on for days about possible head coaching candidates and thoughts on the departing head coach's future in Orlando. While there was an overflow of coverage on Donovan and the University of Florida basketball program over the last week, it was for a totally different reason than I first anticipated last Friday.
When I first heard that Donovan was "reconsidering his decision" of signing with the Magic and could possibly be coming back to coach the Gators after getting out of his newly signed contract, I must say I was at that point speechless. Why? Well because our very own Billy the Kid had more than ample time to make a decision -- a decision that would easily effect the rest of his life as a basketball coach -- on which path he would choose at this junction. He could either a.) sign an extension to coach at the school that put him on the head coaching map, or b.) test the NBA waters with a pretty darn good situation just down the road in Orlando. But even before the Orlando job came available to Donovan this was a decision that needed to be made in full.
I can understand struggling over a decision and not being that happy with it. But there was plenty of time. And on that note, there were several parties dependent on this decision. And it's not like he came close to signing a contract, then changed his mind; He signed the dotted line in Orlando, making it official. And for that I can't blame anybody who has either given or will give Donovan heat in the future over this saga.
I do believe that Billy Donovan is sincere in his apologies to both the Magic and to UF. And I applaud him for being so up-front and remorseful in the path he has taken over the last few weeks. However we can't just brush this aside because of these facts and that he has brought our program two straight national titles. I'm not "mad" by any means at Donovan for these actions; I am however, a little perplexed that this was the scenario when so much time was allocated to him to make a life-changing decision.
On the basketball side of things, I'm jubilant. UF now retains one of the best coaches in the country, and with the restrictions the Magic placed on him when they let him out of their contract, he'll be sticking around for a while. With a top-notch recruiting class coming in, as well as some exciting young players returning next season, basketball will remain fun to watch in Gainesville for quite some time. And let's not forget that Donovan will no longer have the million dollar "is he headed to the NBA" question looming around him during the recruiting process now. What's not to like about that?
Sorry about the swift nature of this update. Most of the discussion regarding this topic has already been beat to death; Just peruse some of my fellow Gator blogs around the 'net and you'll see all of the reaction you will need.
And that's only the beginning of the week that was in Gator athletics -- our football coach also got an extension and our baseball coach was fired. I sure picked the right week to be out -- but I must admit that Europe is one awesome continent.
Until next time, Go Gators!