Well. The last 18 hours have been extremely in the search for a new coach for UK. Billy Donovan has spurned our advance, Rick Barnes of Texas has made it known to all that he isn't interested, so all the talk now centers around Texas A&M coach Billy Gillespie.
What strikes me about this coaching search is the extremely conventional and predictable manner in which it has been executed. There have been no surprises whatever. Any elite program with our connections would have done exactly as we have done. The only thing that is the least bit remarkable so far is that Donovan took so long to make his intentions known, something that we all might wonder about.
Regarding the Donovan rejection, nobody can really blame him for staying at Florida. No coach in history has ever left a school voluntarily to coach elsewhere after winning two national championships, and very few have done so after winning one.
Donovan has been happy at Florida for at least the last five of his eleven years there, and his roots in Gainesville are known to have grown deep. He has apparently chosen the path of Krzyzewski rather than Pitino, and nobody can blame him for that. But UK fans would never have forgiven Barnhart if he hadn't tried.
My personal thoughts on the Donovan dalliance is this: Donovan was the only coach with UK connections that practically everyone could agree upon, almost without qualification. It was reasonable to think that Donovan may be interested in the job, and both logical and (from a fan standpoint) necessary that his employment be explored. Rick Bozich has it exactly right in today's Courier-Journal:
But Kentucky fans will still expect Barnhart to hit a home run in his search for a replacement for Tubby Smith, who left two weeks ago for the University of Minnesota.
The only quibble I have is this question - Are there any more "home runs" realistically available? Triples, yes, doubles for sure, but home runs?
I had absolutely no emotional investment in Donovan, and am therefore not disappointed he didn't come here. It was simply logical, necessary and, had he come would have been mutually beneficial. I had convinced myself that he was likely to come, so in that sense, I was obviously mistaken. But apparently, Mark Story knew it all along.
My main concern right now is the length of time the coaching search is taking. I fear at this point, most of last year's recruiting effort has been pretty much in vain, and we have two unfilled scholarships for whom the main targets, Pat Patterson and Jai Lucas, look rather unlikely. We have a good core returning and the cupboard is by no means bare, but we have some gaping holes that must be addressed. It is looking more and more like we will have to address them with whoever we can find left over.
I have seen some people opine that perhaps DeAndre Jordan would follow Gillespie should he decide to come to UK. My personal take on that situation is this - I hope he doesn't. He has signed an LOI with Texas A&M, and I will never call for a young man to break his word. The LOI is signed with the school, not the coach, and even though I know it is common for players to ask out of their commitment when a coach leaves, I would rather see young men keep their commitments than break them.
Does that mean I would be unhappy to see Jordan in blue? No, as a UK fan, that would not be reasonable. But I would have regrets about the manner of his coming. There are more important things than basketball (or should be), even in the Bluegrass.
This is shaping up to be a fun weekend. Stay tuned ...