It looks like Donovan will have more than a basketball game on his mind this weekend in Atlanta. Just like Coach Howland was engulfed in (an evitable) speculation concerning the UCLA job opening, during Pitt's run to Sweet-16 four years ago, the same situation may be developing around Billy Donovan at Gainsville.
As some of you may know by now Donovan to Kentucky speculation is heating up all over the internets both in the traditional media and also in the new one involving blogs, message boards, and other online community sites. Donovan could the top target in University of Kentucky's coaching search to replace Coach Tubby Smith. His connection to Kentucky is very deep going back to his days as one of the top assistants for Coach Rick Pitino at Lexington.
Now that Kentucky job is open Wildcats administration/fans are excited about making a run towards hiring the Florida coach. To make matters even more interesting Donovan is not doing much to douse the speculation. As Gator bloggers at Swamp Ball are pointing out Donovan is not giving any clear cut statements on whether or not he will be returning to Florida next season:
Donovan, in his 11th season at UF and a former UK assistant for five years, never said he wouldn't consider the job on the podium at the postgame press conference or later in the locker room.
"I'm the head coach at the University of Florida," he said. "I love being here. I love coaching these teams. We've got an opportunity to go to the Final Four on Sunday. That's where my focus is. . . . Those are not my decisions, and I can't have any control over that.
"I think people like talking about it, but my whole thing is, if there's coaching vacancies right now, you guys need to go talk to the guys that are making the decision. What do I have do with it? I've got nothing to do with any of this stuff."
With this in mind, Kentucky fans around the web seem to be pretty confident they will be seeing Billy D roaming the Rupp Sidelines next season -- of course when you read things on message board from people who are usually "wannabe insiders," you have to take the info with a grain of salt.
I said it was a slight chance a couple of days ago when Tubby bolted out of Lexington to the Twin Cities -- I still think that the chances are small, but in my eyes the possibility may be a little bit bigger than I originally thought.
I am not sure if this issue will distract the Florida programs. Their starters are incredibly talented. They know how to get it done. And perhaps they are not paying attention to any of these stories. However, if the UCLA beat writers in the LA media were to exercising their due diligence, they would certainly make sure to explore this particular story line, when they get their first opportunities to talk to Donovan. Since Donovan balked at the opportunity to quiet down these speculations, the media (at least the reporters who haven't had the opportunity to seek clarifications) should continue to pursue this story line. We are looking at you Brian (D) and Rob (K). Just saying.
UPDATE: More Donovan to UK specuation at Sea of Blue. Rumor mill around Billy is really heating up now.