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UF’s Donovan Goes For Win #400 Tonight

Tonight when Florida faces Stetson, Gator coach Billy Donovan will be going for the 400th victory of his career.  The 46-year-old coach has been a head coach since 1994 and has served in Gainesville since 1996.  It’s hard to believe that Donovan has been in the SEC that long.

In 16 years at Florida he’s won two national titles, been to three Final Fours and cranked out eight NBA first-round draft picks. 

For comparison’s sake, Mike Krzyzewski is now the game’s all-time winningest coach with 907 wins at the age of 64.  If Donovan continues to coach into his 60s and continues to enjoy his current level of success, it’s likely he’ll finish his career ranked among the top four or five winningest college basketball coaches ever.

Good luck to Donovan tonight.

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SEC Headlines – 11/3/11 Part Two

1.  Florida’s four-game losing streak has some in the Sunshine State diving for the record books.

2.  A number of factors have lead to the recent decline in Gator football fortunes.

3.  It will be Billy Donovan the father versus Billy Donovan the son when Florida hosts Catholic University in a hoops exhibition.

4.  Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is “a very relentless player.”

5.  As bad as UGA’s special teams have been this year, Mark Richt still doesn’t believe in using an assistant’s spot on a full-time special teams coach.

6.  Joker Phillips named true freshman Max Smith as his starter for Saturday (due in part to an ankle sprain for Morgan Newton).

7.  Randy Sanders says Smith has as strong an arm as any quarterback he’s ever coached.

8.  UK wasn’t perfect but the Cats did get an exhibition win over Transylvania last night.

9.  To get its offense rolling again, South Carolina needs to get Alshon Jeffery the ball.

10.  Darrin Horn says his latest team “has been incredibly fun” to coach because of their work ethic.

11.  Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers might apply for a medical redshirt.

12.  Vol receiver Da’Rick Rogers wants to make up for a big drop last week against South Carolina.

13.  Cuonzo Martin will debut as UT’s new hoops coach in an exhibition game tonight.

14.  Vandy kicker Carey Spear won’t say what went wrong on his last second missed field goal against Arkansas, but he has said he and the coaches have figured it out.

15.  The Commodores might not have needed a last-second kick from Spear had their DBs simply hung on to a number of possible picks.

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UF Reinstates Hoopster Larson

Redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson has been reinstated to Florida’s basketball team today.  “I wanted to get the legal process resolved before I commented on it,” Billy Donovan said.

Larson and teammate Erik Murphy were arrested in April for attempting to break into a car.  The charges against them were lessened over time and Murphy was eventually reinstated to the team. 

But the April arrest meant that Larson had violated the terms of a previous suspended drug-related sentence in his home state of South Dakota.  On Friday, a judge there gave him two years probation for that violation.

And now, he’s back on Florida’s squad.

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UF’s Murphy Reaches A Plea Deal

Suspended Florida basketballer Erik Murphy has reached a plea deal over charges of misdemeanor criminal trespassing.  Murphy and teammate Cody Larson were originally arrested on felony burglary charges in April for allegedly trying to break into a car outside a St. Augustine, Florida bar.

The charges against both were lessened to the trespass charges.

Murphy’s deal will call for him to pay court costs ($440), perform 50 hours of community service and complete a substance abuse evaluation program.  He will also need to write a letter of apology to the car owner and he is not allowed to consume alcohol or other controlled substances for one year.

Larson has a court date scheduled for next Tuesday.  He has pled not guilty to the charges against him.  He is on probation for a misdemeanor drug arrest in his home state of South Dakota.

Both players remain suspended from Billy Donovan’s team for the time being.

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Kennedy, Donovan Praise Kentucky

During yesterday’s SEC basketball coaches teleconference the subject of John Calipari’s new mega-contract came up again and again.  And while the league’s other coaches said all the right things about Coach Cal, a couple of them had even better things to say about the school the employs him.

Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy:

“… I think when you start setting the standard for the epitome for success for college basketball, you start with Kentucky.  No offense to Cal, but that started way before he got there.  Obviously, it’s the most storied program in the history of college basketball.  The most passionate fan base of any collegiate following that I’ve ever been a part of.  And he’s done a tremendous job of going in and selling that product.  He’s an excellent coach.”

Billy Donovan of Florida:

“Every program aspires to build that kind of tradition. … Kentucky’s always been Kentucky.  It’s been that way for 60 years.  … They are truly the measuring stick.”

I think the PR department at UK just got some free and easy quotes to use in this year’s hoops media guide.

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PItino Plays To Big East Fans, Calls The SEC A “Second-Rate League”

It’s probably best not to get too stirred up over the things a coach says at a booster club meeting.  Until recently, most such comments were never available for mass consumption.  But with the internet… oh, boy.  And the messageboards have been lighting up over the weekend due to a comment Rick Pitino made before a Louisville fan club last week.

Introducing his son — who is back as an assistant with the Cardinals after spending two years on Billy Donovan’s staff at Florida — Pitino said:

“(Richard) went away for a couple of years to learn how to do things in a second-rate league, then get back to the big time.”

As we all know, Pitino would have never made that comment while coaching at Kentucky.  And he certainly wouldn’t take a shot — not a serious shot anyway — at the league or program of his old protege Billy Donovan.

Bottom line: Pitino was speaking to Big East fans and playing to the crowd.  Coaches do that all the time.

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Media Poll Lists Saban, Donovan As The SEC’s Best Coaches

Last week in Destin, the host of a Knoxville sportstalk radio show polled 23 members of the media covering the SEC’s spring meetings.  WNML-AM/FM’s Jimmy Hyams asked the voters to rank the SEC’s six best football coaches, six best basketball coaches and the 12 best coaches overall, combining both sports.

The results of his poll are as follows:

Top 6 Football Coaches

1.  Nick Saban, Alabama
2.  Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
3.  Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
4.  Les Miles, LSU
5.  Gene Chizik, Auburn
6.  Mark Richt, Georgia

Top 6 Basketball Coaches

1.  Billy Donovan, Florida
2.  John Calipari, Kentucky
3.  Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
4.  Mike Anderson, Arkansas
5.  Anthony Grant, Alabama
6.  Mark Fox, Georgia and Rick Stansbury, Mississippi State

Top 12 Coaches Overall

1.  Nick Saban, Alabama
2.  Billy Donovan, Florida
3.  John Calipari, Kentucky
4.  Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
5.  Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
6.  Les Miles, LSU
7.  Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
8.  Gene Chizik, Auburn
9.  Mark Richt, Georgia
10.  Mike Anderson, Arkansas
11.  Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
12.  Anthony Grant, Alabama

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Donovan Has Stayed In Touch With Pearl

Jim Tressel and his downfall have been hot topics at this week’s SEC meetings with a number of coaches showing support for the man whose entire career — including all the good deeds he’d ever done — will now be overshadowed by the word “cheating.”

Well the SEC has its own version of Tressel in recently-fired Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl.  And former Pearl rival — and friend — Billy Donovan says he’s been in touch with the former coach.

“I think he’s trying to move on from it,” Florida’s coach said yesterday.  “A lot of times when things happen, whether it’s Bruce Pearl or Jim Tressel, people want to push back and stay away. … It’s unfortunate what happened.  I think that’s also part of life.  His mindset is to try to move forward.”

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Hogs to Owe Pelphrey $420K This Year

In a bit of a surprise, John Pelphrey is not the highest-paid assistant on Billy Donovan’s rebuilt Florida coaching staff.  In fact, he’ll make $55,000 less ($180,000) than Norm Roberts ($235,000) this season.

Pelphrey — who previously served on Donovan’s UF staff — has been a head coach at South Alabama and Arkansas the past nine seasons.  Roberts served as the head coach at St. John’s for the past six seasons.

So why would a man with less head coaching experience bank more coin than a man with more head coaching experience?  Probably to turn the screws on Arkansas.

Pelphrey’s buyout for being fired topped out at $1.8 million over three years.  That’s $600,000 per season.  But any salary Pelphrey makes from another coaching job must be subtracted from that total.

Only making $180,000, Pelphrey can still collect $420,000 from the Razorbacks in 2011-12… even though he’ll be coaching against them in the same conference next season.

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SEC Headlines – 4/26/11 Part Two

1.  Here’s more info on Billy Donovan’s hire of hoops assistant Matt McCall from Florida Atlantic.

2.  Pre-preseason publications are all over the board when it comes to Georgia’s finish in the SEC East this fall.

3.  Here’s a look at UGA’s post-spring depth chart for the offensive line… an area in flux after the injury to Trinton Sturdivant.

4.  If Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and DeAndre Liggins stay in the NBA draft, Kentucky’s history suggests they’ll go in the first round.

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