The Coaching Carousel (6:50pm Friday Update)

Friday Update:


A source close to the University of Kentucky athletic program tells Fox 35 Sports that Billy Donovan will resign as Florida Gators’ head basketball coach to take the same position at Kentucky.


“I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here

  • Deadspin follows up on that by saying, “If Billy Donovan can be believed, he is not leaving Florida” The link also discusses the discrepencies in the reporting of this story from different outlets.
  • Despite some reports on Alabama message boards that Anthony Grant is confirmed to take over the Crimson Tide’s program regardless of the UK-UF situation, TSN is reporting that Alabama waits word on Grant. This could be an indicator for coaching carousel junkies to watch — if Grant accepts the Alabama job then perhaps we know for sure that Donovan is staying put at UF.
  • Rick Barnes’ name was high of Kentucky’s list two years ago when Billy G ultimately landed the gig…but, that was when Barnes had a different roster at Texas. TSN has some solid comments about their view of the three top names for the job – Rick Barnes, John Calipari, and Jay Wright. Kentucky will be back to where they think that they belong at the snap of finger with any of these three.
  • Jay Wright, Villanova. Wright has everything UK needs: PR skills, an entertaining style, the ability to sign elite recruits. They failed to recognize this last time. Has AD Mitch Barnhart gotten smarter?

    John Calipari, Memphis. Hiring him would be controversial, but he attracts big-time recruits and is a great coach. He’s got a perfect setup in Memphis, though. There’d be many more cooks at UK.

    Rick Barnes, Texas. He’s got the best job in college basketball–elite talent all over his backyard, money flowing like water from a spigot and little pressure. Sometimes, he forgets that.

  • Our comments yesterday asked the legimitate question of why former NC State Head Coach, Herb Sendek is not a candidate for the Kentucky opening? and why the media never throws his name into the mix when they share less experienced names like Travis Ford as potential fits. I ran across this UK message board posting that asked if the UK fans would want Herb Sendek? Not a single response of the 14 or 15 responses was a positive response. OH MY!? I wonder if Scott Fowler, Jeff Goodman, Gregg Doyel and others will now pick up their mighty pens and share with us how Kentucky fans don’t know basketball and deserve to lose for not recognizing how deserving Herb is.
  • Original Entry: Thursday

    The Coaching Carousel in college basketball is heating up, and speculation is it will get white-hot in the next 24-48 hours. Why?

    • It appears from numerous fronts that Kentucky is going to fire Billy Gillispie. If the old saying “where there is smoke, there is fire” is true, then a raging inferno is about to bet set on Gillispie, because the smoke is everywhere.   Reports out of Kentucky even have the Mouth of the SEC, Tim Brando, saying Gillispie will be fired.  If you want a much deeper look into  BillyG and Kentucky you can click here for some great stuff.
    • Note how Kentucky has strategically positioned this firing from the beginning — the issue is supposedly all about personality conflicts, supposed player revolts and ‘off the court’ problems as opposed to wins/losses.   Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Matt Doherty?  UNC-CH?  You have really got to give these powerhouses credit for their mastery of public perception.
    • If Gillispie is fired, then the dominoes could really start falling, because Kentucky will not be seeking a replacement from a mid-major program.  The two names most associated are Billy Donovan and John Calipari.   Our sources in Kentucky have been telling us for the better part of two weeks that this was going to play out and John Calipari was going to the be the next basketball coach at Kentucky.   It will be fascintating to watch and see what recruits end up coming along with Calipari and projecting Kentucky back into the Top Ten.
    • Donovan, you may remember, was courted by Kentucky when Tubby Smith “left” for Minnesota. Could this be a situation like Roy and UNC, where the 2nd ask yields a yes?  Calipari seems like a natural fit at Kentucky, although some may question Calipari’s ability to duplicate his Memphis success at a program with the expectations, media-exposure and pressure that Kentucky brings.  Remember, for all his success, Calipari has never been a head coached in a major conference. Things are different, much different, at Kentucky than at schools like Memphis and UMASS.
    • If the Kentucky job opens, we can’t wait for the media to push Herb Sendek as a deserving candidate at Kentucky.  All we’ve heard for years is that Herb is a basketball genius and one of the best coaches around.  Why would he not be the PERFECT coach for Kentucky?  Sendek is a former assistant during the glory days at UK, he recruited Mashburn, he’s a Pitino disciple and his wife is from Lexington.   A few years ago I was traveling through the Lexington airport and the ticket agent struck up a conversation with me that revolved around how much they still love Herb in the area after I told him I was an NC State fan.  I’m sure Sendek would have Jim Boehim’s endorsement. [begin sarcasm] SFN fully expects the media will be all over this and that Kentucky will hire Sendek for the one of the top 2-3 jobs in college basketball[end sarcasm]
    • Of course, Travis Ford of Oklahoma State will carry with him speculation (and would be very interesting considering that Eddie Sutton was thrown out of UK only to ‘rehibilitate’ himself at Oklahoma State.  (What is it about drinking that seems to be a common thread with the job at Kentucky?)  But, what in the world would Ford bring over Herb Sendek?  Sendek COACHED FORD for Christsake!  How/why would the media already be speculating on Ford instead of Sendek.
    • Final note on the Kentucky job – If Calipari lands in Lexington, how does that impact the decisions of Demarcus Cousins and John Wall? Just like three years ago, the decisions of John Calipari could once again impact the fortunes of NC State basketball.
    • Another big opening that could create a domino impact is the Arizona position. Some link John Calipari to this position as well. After the ‘Kentucky-Duke-UNC- Indiana-UCLA’ tier of jobs, Lute Olson has certainly elevated Arizona into the next tier of college basketball jobs.    Of course, having to go against in-state wizard Herb Sendek may frighten off some marquee coaches.  Joking aside, rumors point toward Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Pitt’s Jamie Dixon as top candidates for that position. If Jamie Dixon were to take that job, certainly Pitt would immediately hire Pittsburgh native Herb Sendek.  Right?
    • Closer to home, the UVA job appears to be Tubby Smith’s to turn down.  Tubby is being quiet, which is probably a good thing if you are UVA fan wanting Tubby to come to Hooville. If Tubby turns UVA down, look
      for Siena’s Fran McCaffery to get a long look.  McCaffery worked under UVA AD Greg Littlepage at Penn. McCaffery has strong northeast ties but also has strong tobacco road ties from his 6 years as the head coach of UNC-Greensboro. Jeff Capel is still being discussed in UVA circles, but that appears a long-shot.
    • ESPN’s Andy Katz has reported that Notre Dame’s Mike Brey might be interested in the UVA position. That would not strike fear in the hearts of many in ACC land, that’s for sure, although it would appear to make sports writers at the N&O happy, as Brey seems to be the default candidate for any ACC job opening.  Sean Miller is also being linked to the UVa job as well.  Selfishly, we would prefer if Sean did not move into the ACC until after 2010/2011 so that we can see how things play out in West Raleigh.
    • VCU’s Anthony Grant appears to be headed to Alabama. Various media outlets are reporting Grant has met with Bama officials twice, and an offer of between $2.1 and $2.4 million per year has been extended.  Grant has also been linked to openings at Georgia and UVA.
    • Fox’s Jeff Goodman chimes in with some relevant scuttlebutt
    • * Not much new to report on the Billy Gillispie story at Kentucky. One source close to the program told me that “it’s done”, but there’s been no official word yet. I’d be shocked if something doesn’t come down tomorrow. The two names we continue to hear at Virginia are Xavier’s Sean Miller and Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel.

      * We’re hearing that Georgia will focus its search on Missouri head coach Mike Anderson after the Tigers finish their run in the Big Dance. Dan Parker & Associates, the same search firm that hired.

      * Appalachian State is trying to come up with enough money to lure Buzz Peterson back to the college ranks. Davidson assistant Matt Matheny is also involved. Matheny is also in the mix at at Elon.

      * There is an extensive list of names in the mix at Cal Poly – among them former head coach Brad Soderberg and Brad Holland and current assistants Bob Cantu (USC), Scott Pera (Arizona State) and Scott Garson (UCLA).