Told You So

March 27, 2009

Billy Donovan is not going to be the coach at Kentucky:

“In response to the rumors circulating about my interest in other jobs, I wanted to address this as quickly as possible. I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here.”

When I saw a report that Jeremy Foley was in his office in Gainesville all Friday, I knew Donovan was staying put. When Foley doesn’t have a sense of urgency, there’s nothing to be anxious about. As it turns out, Kentucky’s A.D. Mitch Barnhart hasn’t even asked permission to speak to Donovan.

I know the rumors won’t end here, so I’ll just try to ignore them. Billy Donovan is the Florida head coach, and he will be for quite some time. That’s all anyone needs to know.

UPDATE

If you need anything more

“Billy (Donovan) will not be a candidate for any job that comes open, I can confirm.”

-UF spokesman Fred Demerest

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No, Billy Donovan isn’t Going to Kentucky

March 27, 2009

Right now, it looks like Billy Gillispie is on his way out the door at Kentucky. I’d imagine that nothing causes folks to hit the panic button in Lexington quite like missing the NCAA tournament does.

With another coach out at UK, you know what that means: speculation about Billy Donovan going up there to take the head coaching job. Pat Dooley doesn’t believe it will happen, Kevin Brockway makes some good points in the negative, and Alligator Army reminds us all that the reason Billy D came back from the Orlando Magic was that he loved UF.

One of the other big arguments against Donovan leaving is that he already knows what the UK fanbase is like. After two down years in Gainesville, folks are restless but behind him 100%. After two down years in Kentucky, the Wildcats are ready to run Gillispie out of town.

Plus, I can remember it now: “We got the right Billy, and you didn’t.” That was the refrain I heard from ‘Cats fans after Gillispie signed on two years ago. Now what’s the verdict on that one?

I understand that Florida basketball will always be in the shadow of Florida football, whereas the opposite is true at Kentucky. If anyone knows that it’s Donovan, considering he’s spent time at both places. However, there’s something to be said for not having that kind of pressure and being able to survive a couple of rebuilding years.

The top reason I don’t see Donovan leaving is timing.

Why now? Why not two years ago? He’s admitted that one reason why he wanted to try the NBA two years ago was that he recognized that it was going to be a multi-year project getting UF hoops back to full strength.

It appears that with the young core of players returning along with the coming of guys like Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin and all-everything recruit Kenny Boynton, that project is nearing completion. Why bail on Florida at this point to do another rebuilding project at Kentucky?

Now would be a terrible time to go take that job. If he truly did want to go there someday, it would make more sense for him to make a run with the guys he’s got now in Gainesville and wait for Lexington to chew up and spit out whoever comes in next.

I can’t find any reasonable explanation as to why Billy Donovan would choose to leave Florida for Kentucky. Never is a long time, and he may decide one day that he’s done all he can in Gainesville and that he wants a new challenge.

However, don’t expect to see him leave in 2009.


A Nice Trend

October 26, 2008

There’s not a whole lot to say about the game today, other than it was really fun to watch. If you want to nitpick, you can talk about Tim Tebow throwing an interception and nearly one or two others, as well as him fumbling once and nearly fumbling another time.

But really, it was a 63-5 win. They had 42 points in the first half. Anything other than positives is nitpicking.

Here’s a nice trend I’ve noticed though:


I’m not naive enough to think that the trend will continue this weekend, but things on offense have clearly gone in the right direction. After all of the whining, hand wringing, and calls for Dan Mullen’s head, the Gator offense has kicked it into a whole new gear. It has been looking lately as we thought it would back when making preseason previews.

There will be plenty to discuss this week considering the opponent at the end and all, but not much of it will surround this game. Florida played at the top of its spectrum while Kentucky played at the bottom of its spectrum. I don’t think we really learned anything else yesterday.

In the meantime, feel free to re-read (or just read, if you missed it) my review of Georgia’s offense against South Carolina. It, along with the Bulldogs’ game against Alabama, provides the blueprints for playing well against Georgia.


The Kentucky Game Tomorrow

October 24, 2008

I have not spent time this week breaking down the Kentucky game tomorrow for a couple of reasons.

First, Florida has won the past 21 games in the series, so being a 23-year-old, I am not wired to consider the Wildcats as a threat in football. I know UK has gotten a lot better in the past couple of years under Rich Brooks; last year’s game was a real battle. That’s just the way it is with me.

Second, and more rationally, it’s because Kentucky has been ravaged by injuries as of late while Florida has been getting healthier. Jim Tartt is still going to be out, but Carl Johnson has helped pave the way for the largest two-game rushing count for Florida under Urban Meyer. Emmanuel Moody may get a couple snaps, but Kestahn Moore is listed as the No. 1 running back and of course Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Chris Rainey, and Jeff Demps will get carries.

Meanwhile in Lexington, Dickie Lyons, Jr. and Derrick Locke have been lost for the season in consecutive weeks. DT Myron Pryor will be out for the game, and OT Justin Jeffries will sit out with him. Three linebackers are banged up but will go; the same goes for two defensive backs.

Let’s be honest here. After demolishing LSU and jumping up in the polls, Florida is not just back to being a premier SEC contender but a national title contender as well if Penn State loses. If a newly-healthy Florida team loses to a shorthanded Kentucky team, we’ve got some real issues that run a lot deeper than whether I am taking the Wildcats seriously enough.

UK has enough of a defense this season to give the Gators some fits if it’s healthy. With an important starter missing and five guys not at 100%, it should not be able to do a whole lot of damage. The Kentucky offense should struggle because Mike Hartline is not good enough to beat a powerhouse on the road without his two best skill position players.

Yes, Kentucky gave Alabama a great game in Tuscaloosa in a game that the Tide didn’t fully show up for. They also needed a semi-miraculous comeback to defeat Arkansas just last week. I just don’t see any way that the hurting Wildcats ruin homecoming for Florida.


Tuesday Morning Miscellany

October 21, 2008

Tim Tebow believes Colt McCoy is the front runner of the Heisman Trophy race. Not sure why this is news since everyone else on the planet does too. He’s the quarterback of the No. 1 team and he’s completing 81% of his passes.

Despite this not being “news” in most senses of the word, the AP decided to write an article longer than most game recaps about it. Go figure.

Brandon Spikes has been named a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman or linebacker. He’s definitely earned that in every game except one this season. For some reason he looked like he was running in sand all day against Arkansas, but he’s been a force in every other game.

I’m not sure when the cut from semifinalist to finalist is, but I don’t know if it’s a sure thing that he’ll be one of them. There are 12 guys on the current list, and it gets winnowed down to four in the finalist stage.

There are guys with more national hype than Spikes probably has on the list like Ohio State’s James Laurenaitis, USC’s Rey Maualuga, Ole MIss’ Michael Oher (a near-consensus top-5 pick in next year’s draft), USF’s George Selvie, and now, thanks to the past two weeks, Texas’ Brian Orakpo.

Meanwhile at Kentucky, the injuries are mounting. Perhaps their two best offensive players have fallen out in consecutive weeks, with Derrick Locke joining Dickie Lyons, Jr. in the “gone for the season” club. A couple of key defenders are hurting too.

With UK being borderline decent to begin with and now this, Florida shouldn’t have too much trouble Saturday. The Wildcats barely squeaked by Arkansas, for crying out loud. Still, they play some defense so don’t expect free-flowing offense from the Gators all game long.


Huh? Rich Brooks is Worried About the Polls

September 10, 2008

Rich Brooks is not a fan of the polls right now. His Wildcats are not in the rankings, but they are fourth in the “also receiving votes” section of the Coaches’ Poll.

Someone asked him about them not being in the top 25. Instead of dismissing the question as slightly ridiculous for the third week of the season, he decided to respond:

“I find it interesting that Kentucky football is perceived as poorly as it is. And I’m not saying we’re a Top 25 team right now or not. But if some of the teams I’ve seen ranked in the Top 25 are Top 25 teams, then we are too.”

So I guess he thinks Kentucky is roughly as good as teams like Utah, Fresno State, Clemson, West Virginia, Cal, and others in the bottom end of the polls.

Well then, how could this state of affairs in the polls exist? Apparently his hunch had to do with Kentucky not being a respected, traditional power playing in a tough conference, and that people projecting the schedule naturally assume UK won’t do well.

“They’re looking down the road saying, ‘They can’t beat this team, they can’t beat that team, they can’t beat that team, they can’t beat that team, so they’re not going to have that many wins at the end of the year, so why put them up there?”

I don’t know about that. I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that Kentucky has not won with defense in recent memory, and the ‘Cats will be attempting to do just that in 2008. They lost a lot on offense, and against Louisville, one of the worst defenses of last season, it didn’t look too sharp. The Kentucky O looked better against I-AA Norfolk State, but that is I-AA Norfolk State.

If anything, the fact they’re in the SEC is why they are so high on the coaches’ side. A rising tide lifts all boats, especially now in the conference perception wars.

For my money, putting them the 29th-best team in the country is charitable right now, and with MTSU and WKU coming up, it’s going to take until their October game at Alabama to figure out just how well the new modus operandi is working in Lexington. Over on the AP side, Kentucky is 35th overall.

Eventually Brooks wound his way to what was the right answer all along, saying:

“If we keep winning games, we’ll get there. That’s all. It’s really insignificant at this point.”

(H/T: Da Wiz)


SEC Power Poll Ballot, Week 2

September 9, 2008

1. Georgia

I have a few quibbles about their performance, but really they’re nothing more than nitpicks. CMU got more pressure than I thought it would, which happens to be “any at all,” and the defense lost focus early in the second half. This game would have been closer for longer if Dan LeFevour actually ran the ball before the final drive of the second quarter.

They played like they should have played and won like they should have won.

2. LSU

Will Hurricane Ike let them play next week? It’s looking better now than it did Sunday when I originally drew up these rankings and comments.

3. Florida

The 26-3 final score doesn’t give a fully accurate impression of the game. The UF offensive staff got outcoached, but fortunately the Miami offensive staff did too. The Gator defense looked really good against a vanilla Miami attack, but they didn’t look as dominating as the stats make them out to be.

4. Auburn

They started strong and kind of let off the gas a bit, but the passing game had a pulse and the defense and running were still there. Without some uncharacteristic fumbles, Auburn’s margin of victory would have been much greater.

5. Alabama

Welcome back down to earth, and how. Without some great special teams plays, the Tide might have only won this one 7-6.

6. Ole Miss

Jevan Snead is Matt Jones, Jr. and Ole Miss would qualify as about the third best team in the ACC. They battled the whole game and easily could have won. This one portends good things in Oxford.

7. Tennessee

They better show something against UAB. And by that I mean the Blazers better not be anywhere near contention in the fourth quarter.

8. Vanderbilt

This year’s Mississippi State? A definite maybe on that for now.

9. South Carolina

They had their chances, but the offense stunk without McKinley. Then again, it wasn’t exactly putting up fireworks with him. They didn’t play like they wanted it as badly as Vandy did, and the defense fell apart to a degree in the second half.

I never thought I’d see Spurrier lose twice to Vandy, much less twice in a row.

10. Kentucky

Maybe Cobb is the answer at quarterback, but how much can you really learn against a I-AA team?

11. Mississippi State

You beat SELA. Congratulations.

12. Arkansas

Another close call against a bad team. They will be fortunate to win more than one conference game.