Right now, it looks like Billy Gillispie is on his way out the door at Kentucky. I'd imagine that nothing causes folks to hit the panic button in Lexington quite like missing the NCAA tournament does.
With another coach out at UK, you know what that means: speculation about Billy Donovan going up there to take the head coaching job. Pat Dooley doesn't believe it will happen, Kevin Brockway makes some good points in the negative, and Alligator Army reminds us all that the reason Billy D came back from the Orlando Magic was that he loved UF.
One of the other big arguments against Donovan leaving is that he already knows what the UK fanbase is like. After two down years in Gainesville, folks are restless but behind him 100%. After two down years in Kentucky, the Wildcats are ready to run Gillispie out of town.
Plus, I can remember it now: "We got the right Billy, and you didn't." That was the refrain I heard from 'Cats fans after Gillispie signed on. Now many of those fickle masses are yearning to make a trade of Billy's just two years later.
I understand that Florida basketball will always be in the shadow of Florida football, whereas the opposite is true at Kentucky. If anyone knows that it's Donovan, considering he's spent time at both places. However, there's something to be said for not having that kind of pressure and being able to survive a couple of rebuilding years without having to watch your back.
The top reason I don't see Donovan leaving is timing.
Why now? Why not two years ago? He's admitted that one reason why he wanted to try the NBA two years ago was that he recognized that it was going to be a multi-year project getting UF hoops back to full strength.
It appears that with the young core of players returning along with the coming of guys like Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin and all-everything recruit Kenny Boynton, that project is nearing completion. Why bail on Florida at this point to do another rebuilding project at Kentucky?
The present would be a terrible time to go take that job. If he truly did want to go there someday, it would make more sense for him to make a run with the guys he's got now in Gainesville and wait for Lexington to chew up and spit out whoever comes in next.
I can't find any reasonable explanation as to why Billy Donovan would choose to leave Florida for Kentucky right now. Never is a long time, and he may decide one day that he's done all he can in Gainesville and that he wants a new challenge.
However, don't expect to see him leave in 2009.