Donovan to Magic

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan willing be packing up and moving to coach the Orlando Magic for $28 million. Coming off of back-to-back national championships, it appears that Donovan feels that the time is right for him to make a jump to the NBA.

There will naturally be two major comparisons after this decision: 1. The comparison of Donovan’s NBA move to Rick Pitino’s NBA move 2. The comparison between Donovan and his replacement. Whether or not both comparisons are fair, it will be interesting to see Donovan and his replacement try to handle the burdens of the comparisons. Sports networks, specifically ESPN, are always trying to find some connection or similarities between a current sports story and a past story. Sadly, the fans will suffer too when they are forced to hear about it non-stop.

The current favorite to replace Donovan at Florida is VCU head coach Anthony Grant. Coach Grant is not only a former Donovan assistant, he is also a former Florida High School coach with a record of 172-11 while coaching in Miami. He is 41 years of age and is held in high regard in the state of Florida. He may well be the easiest coaching choice for transitional purposes.

The more I read about Grant, to more I want to like him. He won a conference championship at VCU and beat Duke in the NCAA tournament. However, I have to wonder if UF is simply trying to recreate a Donovan type success story/ coach with Grant. A major reason for hiring Grant is due to his Billy Donovan connections (10 years at Florida, 2 years at Marshall). He is a sure fire up and comer, but I wonder if he is ready for the spotlight in the best program in the country right now. Plus, they beat the worst Duke team in over 10 years.

I know people may say, “Florida is a football school first”, and I agree with them to a certain point. But, when you give a fanbase what Donovan provided, some spoiling will naturally occur. They certainly won’t try to run him out of town, but it is a gigantic step in Grant’s coaching career (he has not been a college head coach for very long).

I do feel like Grant is a good hire overall. He may have some issues early, but I feel that his high school connections will be helpful for him. His biggest challenge now is to keep the current recruiting class, and to calm the nerves of the Florida Gator faithful. He must prove that the program will be in good hands to both.

Donovan will also have to battle with the shadow of Rick Pitino’s move to the NBA after the 1997 season. A lot of people will start to offer up the belief that Donovan is somehow just like Pitino for making this move. Try to remember how much people talked about Rick Pitino when Florida won a national title, now consider how annoying it will be to hear it for the rest of your NBA coaching career. He will surely have a mess on his hands in Orlando. Best of luck Billy, you’ll need it all.

Longest post ever is done!

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5 Responses to “Donovan to Magic”

  1. Wes Says:

    Finally, I can stop worrying. I thought Orlando might use their Magic and lure Mark Gottfried away from the Tide. Ha 🙂

    Well it might be a mess in Orlando, but with Donovan losing all his top players at Florida, it will be a rebuilding effort at both places, so it was probably a good time for him to cash in.

    I do hate for the SEC to lose Donovan.

  2. bamahoops Says:

    I don’t get why GMs continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over again. CBD’s greatest strength was bringing in top notch players… up until 2 years ago people in Gainesville were grumbling about his teams underachieving in the tourney.

    Him leaving IMO put Arkansas (even with a new HC) as the favorite to wn the SEC.

    I don’t blame CBD… he’s done it all. My issue is leaving the Gators high in dry this late in the game.

  3. Roll Bama Roll Says:

    Too bad Donovan wasn’t the Magic’s coach while I lived in Orlando. I liked going to the games, but good grief, were they miserable to watch.

  4. Billy Ball Back in Gainesville « The Tide Druid Says:

    […] all that stuff I talked about involving Billy Donovan’s departure to the Orlando Magic? Forget it all. Billy is going […]

  5. WesCrimson Says:

    Yes it seems that the Orlando Magic may be on the hunt again for a new head coach, well if they decide to release Donovan from any contractual agreement to which he may have already agreed. I understand Florida has put on hold the hire of Donovan’s replacement.

    But then again there is tomorrow, it may change again. 🙂


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