The Difference Between Florida And Kentucky
Posted by Matt on May 29, 2007
Sometimes I find myself praying, almost unconsciously, that University of Florida head basketball coach, Billy Donovan, will finally pull the trigger and make the move to the NBA. I find myself waking up in the morning hoping that the first headline I see when I get on the Internet is “Donovan’s Magic.”
And deep down, I would like to think that Billy D. is heading for Orlando and then, in my own personal reality, recent Florida commit, Jai Lucas, would try, disparately, to get out of his Letter of Intent to Florida. Florida, of course, would oblige and this chain of events would vault Kentucky right back to the forefront for Lucas’s services. Of course this scenario is not nearly as important, or pressing, since Kentucky landed uber-recruit Patrick Patterson and the whole idea of it all is not very probable either.
However, this little scenario, conjured up mainly by my imagination, lead me to one fundamental question: What is the difference between Florida and Kentucky? By this I mean what makes me so sure that Jai Lucas would be dead-set on leaving if Billy Donovan flew the coop, while I was confident everyone would stay with Kentucky even though Tubby Smith departed. After some consideration, I came up with one definitive answer:
Billy Donovan makes Florida a program where Kentucky makes [insert coach] a superstar.
Billy Donovan IS Florida basketball and thus everything relies on his presence. Kentucky, on the other hand, makes it’s coach, and thus is not completely dependent on the presence of any one head coach for success; Kentucky is nearly a self-sufficient program as I outlined in my article “Tools Of The Trade.” Where Billy Donovan came in to Florida to build a program and create his legacy, coaches, save Adolph Rupp, come to Kentucky to merely build on a legacy already in place and to be built in to a superstar by the program itself.
Adolph Rupp set the wheels in motion many years ago and coaches hired at Kentucky are, at times, simply riding the coattails of his legendary success. Coaches at Kentucky are inclined to stay in Lexington because of the history, tradition, and support of the basketball program here in the Bluegrass, on top of fine facilities and a “decent” salary. Donovan’s only inclinations to stay are dollar figures and the possibility that, sometime in the distant future, Billy is looked back upon as a modern-day Rupp for the University of Florida. However, there is no true way of determining how history will remember you, so the only tangible binding factor for Donovan is money, and it is common knowledge that the grass is definitely greener, financially, in the NBA.
Furthermore, continuing with the fundamental differences between the two programs, if Billy Donovan IS Florida and he leaves, it is relatively conceivable that the recruits who came merely to play for him would want to leave as well. However, if a Kentucky coach leaves the players still have the honor and privilege of playing for “Kentucky;” not just the University of Kentucky as a proper noun, but all of the intangibles brought to mind when the word “Kentucky” is spoken in the collegiate basketball world.
Will Billy stay or will Billy go? This is the premier question in the college basketball at this juncture and my heart says he’ll go (wishful thinking), but my gut and instinct says that he’ll stay (the unfortunate reality). Either way, remember this:
Florida’s success in basketball almost completely hinges on the presence, or lack thereof, of Billy Donovan. Whether its this year, next year, or a couple of years down the road, when Billy D. leaves, we may see the fall of a short-lived empire. Whereas Kentucky’s complete dominance may come-and-go in cyclic fashion, it’s success has never hinged on the presence of any one coach to the point where, at times, a coach’s success actually hinges on Kentucky.
Kentucky almost dictates it’s own success over time, name of head coach notwithstanding, and that, my friends, is the true difference between Florida and Kentucky.
This entry was posted on May 29, 2007 at 12:56 PM and is filed under Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball. Tagged: AUTHOR:MJ. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
4 Responses to “The Difference Between Florida And Kentucky”
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.