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GatorUnvrsty

Billy Donovan #1 In ESPN Top 50 College Basketball Coaches

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Originally Published: July 3, 2014

Top 50 coaches: No. 1 Billy Donovan

By ESPN.com

Editor's note: Over the past five weeks, we revealed the top 50 coaches in college basketball as decided by our ESPN Forecast panel. Today we unveil No. 2: Kentucky's John Calipari and No. 1: Florida's Billy Donovan.

It was the spring of 2007, and Billy Donovan had options.

Donovan had just engineered the first back-to-back national championships in 25 years. He was just 42. In the matter of 10 seasons at Florida, he had put himself in the rarefied coaching stratosphere -- the place where you get to make your own demands and know they'll be met, where any college program will have you, where NBA general managers are bound to come calling.

It was all happening for Donovan. Throughout the spring, rumors of Kentucky's interest abounded. Donovan had been an assistant at UK under Rick Pitino; it's where he got his coaching start. Kentucky had just waved farewell to Tubby Smith, and was reportedly eager to reel Donovan in. But Donovan kept the Wildcats at arm's reach, refusing to acknowledge any official contact. Eventually, he demurred. Kentucky hired Billy Gillispie instead.

And then, in late May, the Orlando Magic came calling. The Magic had fired Brian Hill after two losing seasons. After a week of deliberation, Donovan agreed to take the job. On June 1, Donovan was introduced in Orlando. But on June 2, Donovan had changed his mind. The Magic grudgingly released him from his contract and hired Stan Van Gundy instead.

Think of the counterfactuals here. Had Donovan been remotely interested in Kentucky, he'd probably still be there. Gillispie would never have been hired. His successor, John Calipari, who has since turned Kentucky into an annual behemoth, might still be at Memphis. What if Donovan had stayed in Orlando? The Magic won 50-plus games in each of the next four seasons; they went to the NBA Finals in 2008-09, the season Florida slogged its way to a second consecutive NIT.

Instead, Donovan stayed. And seven years later, he's the No. 1 coach in our ESPN Forecast top 50.

In doing so, the Florida coach edged out Calipari, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski and Pitino. It's hard to think of a better testament to Donovan's current stature in the sport than this one.

http://espn.go.com/n...a-billy-donovan

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Who's you're coach again UT? Go sit in the corner and don't talk until you're worth a damn at some sport. Any sport.

Cal is 10-5 against Billy. He has won more games than Billy. He has more players in the NBA than Billy. He has more Final Fours than Billy. Cal has had #1 classes every season, has Billy ever?

Billy has more SEC titles than Cal during his tenure here, but since we have 46 of them to UFs 7, we're willing to oblige you with that one.

The one thing you'll be able to stick in our craw that any KY fan will care at all about is Billys 2 titles to Cal's 1. That's what matters, so hats off. Not going to matter after we run train on the basketball landscape this season, in case you've forgotten who's returning and who's also coming in.

To reiterate, Cal has won more, and has beaten head to head Billy twofold. Let me know how that ranking works out for you. Well be bringing home hardware while we wait on your response.

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Two words why Cal is #2

Robert Morris

Can't have that on your résumé when you have the stacked deck UK has

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Who's you're coach again UT? Go sit in the corner and don't talk until you're worth a damn at some sport. Any sport.

Cal is 10-5 against Billy. He has won more games than Billy. He has more players in the NBA than Billy. He has more Final Fours than Billy. Cal has had #1 classes every season, has Billy ever?

Billy has more SEC titles than Cal during his tenure here, but since we have 46 of them to UFs 7, we're willing to oblige you with that one.

The one thing you'll be able to stick in our craw that any KY fan will care at all about is Billys 2 titles to Cal's 1. That's what matters, so hats off. Not going to matter after we run train on the basketball landscape this season, in case you've forgotten who's returning and who's also coming in.

To reiterate, Cal has won more, and has beaten head to head Billy twofold. Let me know how that ranking works out for you. Well be bringing home hardware while we wait on your response.

Let me guess, this season UK goes 40-0?
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Two words why Cal is #2

Robert Morris

Can't have that on your résumé when you have the stacked deck UK has

I don't agree it should drop him, but can't argue either. We should have won no excuses,;the team didn't give a damn about the game. Played like ass, and that's on him for not getting them over it. You can say it, Gators can't. That was the same year they laid down against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
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I don't agree it should drop him, but can't argue either. We should have won no excuses,;the team didn't give a damn about the game. Played like ass, and that's on him for not getting them over it. You can say it, Gators can't. That was the same year they laid down against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.

Outside of the SEC we have Louisville, UNC, Kansas, UCLA, Texas, and Providence. A lot of possible pitfalls, but Louisville ain't gonna be one of em.
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Bottom line, we're happy with Cal, they're happy with Billy.

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Who's you're coach again UT? Go sit in the corner and don't talk until you're worth a damn at some sport. Any sport.

Cal is 10-5 against Billy. He has won more games than Billy. He has more players in the NBA than Billy. He has more Final Fours than Billy. Cal has had #1 classes every season, has Billy ever?

Billy has more SEC titles than Cal during his tenure here, but since we have 46 of them to UFs 7, we're willing to oblige you with that one.

The one thing you'll be able to stick in our craw that any KY fan will care at all about is Billys 2 titles to Cal's 1. That's what matters, so hats off. Not going to matter after we run train on the basketball landscape this season, in case you've forgotten who's returning and who's also coming in.

To reiterate, Cal has won more, and has beaten head to head Billy twofold. Let me know how that ranking works out for you. Well be bringing home hardware while we wait on your response.

You just described why Billy is #1. He's #1 because he has come by his accomplishments despite not having the same #1 classes and NBA-studded rosters that Cal has enjoyed.

In fact, if you look at the comments below the story, even fans of other top programs concede Billy's at the top of the heap right now; and I saw comments from Duke fans, UK fans, KU fans, MSU fans, and even UConn fans.

And how is Cal 10-5 against Billy? By my count he's 8-5, which certainly isn't twofold.

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People bash Cal for going to the NIT and rightfully so, yet no one talks about the fact that Billy went to the NIT not once, but two years in a row. I know he lost a lot but that's on him for not reloading. Cal has said he didn't recruit enough. I still believe we would of gotten to the NCAA had Noel not went down. That season was just a mess that was highlighted by a PG who was a soft as a cotton ball.

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You just described why Billy is #1. He's #1 because he has come by his accomplishments despite not having the same #1 classes and NBA-studded rosters that Cal has enjoyed.

In fact, if you look at the comments below the story, even fans of other top programs concede Billy's at the top of the heap right now; and I saw comments from Duke fans, UK fans, KU fans, MSU fans, and even UConn fans.

And how is Cal 10-5 against Billy? By my count he's 8-5, which certainly isn't twofold.

So your reasoning is that we have an unfair advantage because we recruit better. It's the same story in football.

Kentucky football is more noble because we come by our wins with inferior players. Rich Brooks was better than Steve Spurrier. Cool story.

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So your reasoning is that we have an unfair advantage because we recruit better. It's the same story in football.

Kentucky football is more noble because we come by our wins with inferior players. Rich Brooks was better than Steve Spurrier. Cool story.

The only difference is Kentucky doesn't win in football. If Kentucky had inferior players and managed to win 2 National Championships, people would be saying that Kentucky's coach was better than one with superior talent and 1 National Championship.
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Cal has proven he can win from the lowly ranks of UMass all the way up to the highest peak in the land. Acting like he's just now doing anything is absurd.

Cal owns the head to head. End of discussion.

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Do you get a trophy for winning head to head? Does Cal get paid just to beat Florida? The goal is to win championships and that's the most important thing.

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He's been to the Final Four three out of the last five years and was 2 pts away from making that four. What's Billy been up to?

It's like the rest of you haven't watched basketball at all. Billy had a magic class, got em to return. That's great. He's not even as good a coach as Pitino though. This is really pretty absurd.

I guess my issue isn't him getting #1 over Cal...it's him getting #1. He's not the best coach in the country. He simply isnt. He's done good for Florida and 5 hats fine though.

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Haha, I was just disputing your claim about the head to head. I'm not sure who's the better coach, I'd be happy with both.

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I'd rather Pearl were at Tennessee. UK-UT was a lot of fun. Hopefully your boy Anderson can bring some fire to Mizzou and get this going.

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I'd rather Pearl were at Tennessee.

You and me both

Bring back fat Phil while you're at it

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This REAL simple IMO.

Billy = 2 titles

Cal = 1 title

It is clear that Cal is well on his way to the top of this list. He has put SEVERAL more into the NBA, 3 FF in 5 years and a title. This time next year he'll have #2 and be in a great position for his 3rd.

Billy D is a great coach...but if Cal stays as long at UK as BD stays at UF, UK will add at least another 4-5 NCAA titles to the total and then there will be no doubt who the greatest coach in the HISTORY of the SEC is...yes, I said history.

Go Big Blue!!

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So your reasoning is that we have an unfair advantage because we recruit better. It's the same story in football.

Kentucky football is more noble because we come by our wins with inferior players. Rich Brooks was better than Steve Spurrier. Cool story.

Nobody said it's an unfair advantage; it's just a fact.

1 coach regularly has rosters made up of players who are NBA-ready and has won 1 NC; the other rarely has the same kind of players and has 2 NC's... that's the very definition of "better coach".

And if Rich Brooks had won 2 NC's despite having fewer quality players than Spurrier, everyone would say Brooks is the better coach too. Pretty simple.

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This REAL simple IMO.

Billy = 2 titles

Cal = 1 title

It is clear that Cal is well on his way to the top of this list. He has put SEVERAL more into the NBA, 3 FF in 5 years and a title. This time next year he'll have #2 and be in a great position for his 3rd.

Billy D is a great coach...but if Cal stays as long at UK as BD stays at UF, UK will add at least another 4-5 NCAA titles to the total and then there will be no doubt who the greatest coach in the HISTORY of the SEC is...yes, I said history.

Go Big Blue!!

No, here's the thing, how many NC's do you think Billy would have had by now if he'd left for UK after the UF 2007 NC, and was recruiting from Lexington?

He'd have been recruiting from a blue-blood basketball program that already attracts the top talent on name alone, and he'd be riding the wave from back-to-back NC's.

I think it's safe and conservative to say he'd probably have 5 right now, 2 from UF and 3 at UK; and every coach in the country would be a small dot in his rearview mirror.

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Coach-Donavan

Recruiter-Cal hands down,no doubt,can't be touched.No one in the country can come close to him here.He should win it all every year.Good job.

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No, here's the thing, how many NC's do you think Billy would have had by now if he'd left for UK after the UF 2007 NC, and was recruiting from Lexington?

He'd have been recruiting from a blue-blood basketball program that already attracts the top talent on name alone, and he'd be riding the wave from back-to-back NC's.

I think it's safe and conservative to say he'd probably have 5 right now, 2 from UF and 3 at UK; and every coach in the country would be a small dot in his rearview mirror.

That's a bit of a stretch. That would mean he'd be a greater coach than Rupp, Dean Smith and Coach K before 50. Yes, he has two titles but with the exact same team. He's yet to build a second championship team. Had Anthony Davis and co. come back it's a safe bet that Cal would have 2 titles as well.

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If Cal could coach as well as he recruits there would be no need for excuses.It's the player's fault when they fail.

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That's a bit of a stretch. That would mean he'd be a greater coach than Rupp, Dean Smith and Coach K before 50. Yes, he has two titles but with the exact same team. He's yet to build a second championship team. Had Anthony Davis and co. come back it's a safe bet that Cal would have 2 titles as well.

I don't think it's a stretch at all. Know how many McDonald's AA's were on those UF NC teams? 1. Corey Brewer was the only McD's AA on the team.

And so what if he hasn't yet built a 2nd NC team; Cal didn't even have his 1st NC team until 20 years into his career... Billy won his titles at a basketball nobody 12 years into his career.

I've already addressed your strange "issue" with Billy not having another title yet, as if winning them is simple; but I'll remind you of some NCAA tourney history and illustrate why Billy not having a 3rd title yet isn't unusual at all...

* Coach K won the 2nd of his back2back titles in '92. It was 9 years before he finally won another in 2001. It would be another 9 years before he won again in 2010, and that's at Duke.

* Dean Smith won 1 in '82 and didn't win another until 11 years later in '93. He was at UNC for 37 years and still only won the 2 titles.

* Rick Pitino won 1 in '96 and didn't win another until 17 years later, and that's at 2 basketball rich programs.

* Bill Self has been at KU for 11 years, and he still only has the 1 title in 2008.

* Jim Boeheim has been at Syracuse nearly 40 years and he still only has the 1 title in 2003.

* Tom Izzo has been at MSU for 20 years and he still only has the 1 title in 2000 (against Billy btw).

That is a list of College Basketball Hall Of Fame coaches (several of them are already in it). There are only 2 current coaches to win titles less than 5 years apart. Billy and Roy Williams, who won in 2005 and 2009 at UNC; and he may very well end up having to vacate 1 of those. He never even won a title in his 16 years at KU.

If Billy had Cal's rosters every year he'd be chasing Wooden and we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

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