Billy Donovan has agreed to become the next coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s not the first time Donovan has agreed to lead an NBA team with a non-plural team name. But this, time it seems like it’s actually happening.
That being said, Donovan leaves quite the hole behind him in Gainesville. This is a program with two championships in the last decade, that hasn’t missed the tournament since 2009. Just two years ago, they entered March Madness as the #1 overall seed. Not to mention, Florida has a warchest of football money in their pocket. Plus, coaching at one of the two great basketball schools in the top-heavy SEC must be a pretty cushy job.
That being said, let’s take a look at who the Gators might be considering to take over their sidelines next season.
The Back-Up The Money Truck Guys
The big names who would really need to be woo’ed South.
Tony Bennett (Virginia)
Bennett brings back a team that is certain to contend for the ACC and national championships, but Florida can offer a lot more than Virginia. Not only can they throw a big money offer at Bennett, recruiting to UF, thanks to past success, location, and the football money, makes life a lot easier.
Jay Wright (Villanova)
Jay’s name gets tossed around every time a big time job opens up, and he hasn’t budged thus far. Florida would be tempting. The money and prestige that comes with a top football school just can’t be matched by a Big East program.
Gregg Marshall (Wichita State)
The man Texas seemed so enamored with before scooping up Shaka Smart would certainly be intriguing at Florida. Is his success at Wichita State a flash in the pan? Maybe. I wouldn’t break the bank to hire Marshall until I knew what he could do without Fred Van Vleet.
Archie Miller (Dayton)
Archie’s brother Sean jumped from a Midwest mid-major when the big fellas came calling and he may be next. All things equal, he may be the best choice for the job. Down to only 7 healthy scholarship players last year, none over 6’6, Miller led the Flyers not only to the tournament, but to the Round of 32.
Miller recently signed a contract extension that lasts through the 2022 season, which makes negotiations a bit tougher.
Billy’s Coaching Tree
Why not stay in the family?
Larry Shyatt (Wyoming)
Richard Pitino (Minnesota)
Donnie Jones (UCF)
Anthony Grant (uh…I’m not sure?)
I’m clumping this group together because I’m not in love with any of them as choices. Shyatt was successful this year, but that’s quite the jump for him to make. Pitino has the name, though he’s yet to really show anything special.
Donnie Jones left Donovan’s staff for the head job at UCF and we haven’t heard much from his program. They’ve treaded water, but that’s not enough for a promotion this big.
And then there’s Grant. He sparked the VCU uprising before heading to Alabama. Under Grant, the Tide made one tournament appearance in five years and he was recently fired. He was headed to re-join Donovan’s staff at Florida, but now his future seems murky. Too murky to promote to the head coaching position.
Donovan’s coaching tree doesn’t seem to be bearing much fruit. Let’s get back to candidates who’d be a better fit.
There’s something disheartening about a guy who’s been to the mountaintop, failed, and is now on the upswing again. But they bring hardened experience to compensate for the lack of excitement.
Tommy Amaker (Harvard)
Amaker was canned after 6 lackluster seasons at Michigan. Since then, he’s found his groove at Harvard. The Crimson have won the last 5 Ivy League titles. Amaker is bound to get another shot on the big stage and after what he’s shown recently, he deserves it.
Jeff Capel (Duke assistant)
Capel got his chance at Oklahoma before retreating to the Duke staff. Since he’s returned, the Devils have been as good as ever, including a championship this season. Coach K’s coaching tree has extended these last few years and Capel could be the next branch.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.
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