Donovan Talks About Recruiting Philosophy

Urban Meyer has caused some controversy in the Big Ten after recruiting players that were committed to Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio. Bielema has been vocal about his displeasure, saying that there is a gentleman's agreement in the Big Ten not to recruit players to other schools. Donovan weighed in on the state of basketball recruiting.

"In basketball, there is no question a gentleman's (agreement)," Donovan said. "I will not recruit anybody who is committed. Never, ever, ever. That's a thing that goes on in basketball. I have a right to recruit, but I think it's kind of an unwritten, unspoken law in basketball."

Even when it comes to players that made the University of Florida basketball program what it is today, Donovan won't do it.

Al Horford originally committed to Michigan. Donovan said that "a person very close" to Horford's recruitment called Donovan one day and said that Horford felt like he made a mistake and wanted to come to Florida. Donovan cut the person off.

Horford's commitment to Michigan was still in tact, and he was comfortable even speaking positive things about Florida until Horford called the Michigan coaches and told them he wasn't going to play for them.

"The only way I would recruit him is if he called up the coach at Michigan and tells him that he has decided to open up his recruitment, but I wasn't going to talk to them about Florida or anything about his decision," Donovan said.

That's what the general understanding has become in college basketball. Once that player makes a decision, other coaches back off. Donovan did joke about his early days as a head coach. There was another head coach, who Donovan wouldn't identify, who would say the same thing to Donovan every time a highly regarded player committed to his program.

"Well that's great," Donovan recalls hearing from the unnamed head coach. "Now it's down to two—me and you."

Those are the rarities. Donovan pointed to Duke freshman Austin Rivers, who committed to Florida early in his high school career, as an example of de-commitments that occur and players choose to look elsewhere.

"I don't know if other schools were tampering or talking to Austin or not," Donovan said. "I have no idea. It's just one of those things where I just don't do that. Most of college basketball coaches do not do that one a guy commits."

College basketball takes it seriously enough to where others will get involved if they hear of coaches recruiting committed players.

"I haven't done this but I know coaches will," Donovan said. "If a guy is committed to a school and there's another school trying to change or break that commitment, the school he is committed to will call up the coach and say, ‘what are you doing? This guy has already made up his decision and coming to our school.'"

That's why Donovan is in shock of the culture of football recruiting. Will Muschamp is the fourth head coach of the football team since Donovan took over the basketball program, but with every new coach, it's the same conversation. The head football coaches are always open and honest with Donovan and the strain it puts on the recruitment.

"I know some of the football coaches here will say the hardest thing is when you get a guy to commit early and hold onto that commitment. What happens is you have five or six schools that are trying to get back in it that are just attacking one school about why the decision is a poor decision.

"I've always been amazed in football that a guy is committed to play somewhere and he's taking official visits to other places. That makes no sense to me. He shouldn't commit anywhere if he isn't sure. It just seems like that's what goes on. I don't know enough of the unspoken rules or laws of recruiting, but I do know in coaches that have been here, there are other schools that do it."

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