Who is next at Florida?
With the news that Billy Donovan has decided to take the head coaching position with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it raises a big and obvious question. That question is, who is next in line to be the head coach of the Gators. In order to get a good idea of this, one has to understand the history of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. Like most guys, Foley has “a type”. In this case however it has nothing to do with blondes or brunettes, but it does have to do with the type of head coach he typically hires. In his time as an athletic director when it comes to football or basketball coaches he has hired Billy Donovan, Ron Zook, Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp, and most recently Jim McElwain. While guys like Donovan and Meyer are huge names now, at the time of their hiring they were considered rising stars in the industry. Donovan was only a head coach for Marshall for two seasons, while Meyer was only a head coach for two seasons a piece at Bowling Green and Utah. Likewise Zook was a defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, Muschamp the defensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns, and McElwain came from the head coaching position at Colorado State. With that there is clearly a pattern with Foley. While McElwain is the oldest of the coaches he has hired, at 52 years old, and Donovan the youngest at 30, all fit the mold of up and coming coaches who have a good reputation and aren’t going to command a huge salary right away. Currently Billy Donovan makes 4 million dollars per year. It is pretty safe to assume that amount of money will not being going to the new head coach of the Gators, since that goes against everything Foley has done in the past. Knowing this, it will be interesting to see what Foley does with the job. Anthony Grant, who was just hired as an assistant at Florida, was the man when Donovan was set to leave Florida for the Orlando Magic in 2007, but since then things have changed. Grant had an up and down stint at Alabama that resulted in his firing. Now could Foley overlook that and stick to his convictions that Grant is the guy at Florida, absolutely, but it is tough to hire a guy in the same league who was just fired, and do it at a better job. John Pelphrey who is currently on the staff as well could be in the same boat since he was recently fired at Arkansas. The only other guy with “Florida ties” who would seemingly be on the radar is Wyoming Head Coach Larry Shyatt. However Shyatt is currently 64 years old, and that doesn’t fit into the mold of what Foley has looked for in the past. Also one has to look at the hires that Foley has made. The two that have most definitely not worked out are Zook and Muschamp. Both were fired after a short stint as head coaches at the school. Because of that, it would seem tough to imagine Foley hiring another assistant. While a guy like Duke assistant Jeff Capel does have head coaching experience at VCU and Oklahoma, and he fits into the mold of a young and up and coming guy, he also is an assistant now, so that might be something that gives Foley some pause given the history of guys coming as assistants to Florida to be the head coach of a major program. With no direct obvious choice within the Florida family, and knowing that Foley has had more success hiring guys who were head coaches in Donovan and Meyer, and knowing that Foley just conducted a search that was focused on head coaches with McElwain getting the job, logic would say that Foley will look for a current head coach, and it is likely to be one slightly off the radar. Some coaches who fit the mold of being current head coaches, being young, and having success would be Dayton Head Coach Archie Miller, Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack, Wake Forest boss Danny Manning, Richard Pitino from Minnesota, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams, Louisiana Tech’s Mike White, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew, and Rhode Island’s Danny Hurley. Most, if not all, of those coaches would likely be very interested in the job in Gainesville. While the Florida job might not be the top five hoops job like it is in football, it is still a very desirable position within the industry, and one that many would have a strong desire to get. What Foley does at this point is an unknown, but at the same time he does have a history, and one can look at it and get a pretty good idea of the type of target he will have.
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