John Calipari just signed a seven-year contract extension to stay at the University of Kentucky. The deal is worth $52 million, a rather hefty price but Kentucky certainly thinks Calipari is worth the investment just as Alabama thinks Nick Saban is worth the investment of a contract that will pay him $7 million a year to coach football.
That brings us to Billy Donovan, who is paid nearly $4 million by the University of Florida. If the contracts that Calipari and Saban tell us anything it is that the University of Florida needs to pony up the bucks to give Donovan a rather substantial pay increase. Now a job that pays $4 million a year is nice work if you can get it, but if Florida intends to keep Billy Donovan around for a long time, then it better start the negotiations for a long extension at something like $6 million a season.
Six million dollars a year is an awful lot of money, but Billy Donovan is worth it. What he has done for Florida basketball is remarkable – two national championships and two other trips to the Final Four, seven trips to the Elite Eight game, six SEC championships, four SEC Tournament championships, 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament in 18 years and 16 straight seasons of 20 or more wins. He graduates his players and he runs a squeaky clean program. There isn't a hint of dirt on the program nor will there be.
Donovan is the best coach in any sport in the history of the University of Florida and he deserves a contract fitting of that distinction. At least four NBA teams approached Donovan in the spring after the Gators finished their season 36-3 with a trip to the Final Four. Those teams are going to keep calling unless Florida does what Kentucky and Alabama have done with their marquee coaches – give them incentive to never leave. Donovan hasn't demanded to be paid like Calipari or Saban, but he deserves it and quite frankly, shouldn't have to ask.
At the SEC Tournament back in March, UF president Bernie Machen told me, "Billy Donovan is a treasure to the University of Florida and to the Gainesville community. I don't ever have to worry about Billy."
So, treat him like a treasure and pay him the kind of money so nobody has to worry that he might give the NBA a try someday.
Bo Pelini has a rather novel idea about how to clean up recruiting – eliminate national signing day altogether. Pelini thinks players should have the right to sign their college football scholarship the day they are offered and that eliminating national signing day would bring more accountability into the recruiting process by eliminating some of the hanky panky that goes on the last few days before the first Wednesday in February.
The Pelini plan would allow a kid to sign his scholarship even if he's a freshman or sophomore in high school. That might sound silly but coaches are making offers to eighth graders these days.
"If somebody has offered a kid, let him sign, it's over," Pelini told Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com. "That will stop some of the things that are happening -- people just throwing out offers, some of them with really no intention of taking a kid."
There isn't much chance that the Pelini plan is going to be adapted any time soon, but an idea by Maryland coach Randy Edsall could gain a lot of traction. Edsall wants legislation that will prevent scholarship offers until the start of a kid's senior year. There is some sentiment that the Edsall idea could work if modified to no offers before June 1, when camp season begins.
There will be other ideas forthcoming in the next few weeks because the five power conferences are going to gain autonomy and with autonomy you can expect they will either rewrite or modify a good many of the recruiting rules currently in place. College sports as we know them are about to change in a mighty way.
15. Brandon Spikes, linebacker (2006-09): The play that defined Spikes' career was the second play of the 2008 Florida-Georgia game when he stepped into the hole and decleated Knowshon Moreno, a play that set the tone for the entire game. In his Florida career, Spikes was in on 307 tackles including 31.5 for loss, registered 6.5 sacks, forced two fumbles, recovered four and returned four of his six interceptions for touchdowns. Spikes made All-SEC three times (2007-09) and was a consensus first team All-America selection in 2008 and 2009.
14. Alex Brown, defensive end (1998-2001: Tee Martin still hears the footsteps from that 1999 game in which Brown sacked him five times, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass in Florida's 23-21 win over 1998 national champ Tennessee. He was a three-time All-SEC and two-time All-America selection who finished his career with 33 sacks and 47 tackles for loss. The 33 sacks and his 13 sacks in 2001 remain UF records.
13. Shane Matthews, quarterback (1988-92: Matthews did something no other quarterback has ever done – mastered the Steve Spurrier offense in one spring. He went from sixth string in 1989 to SEC Player of the Year in 1990. He repeated as SEC Player of the Year in 1991 when he led UF to its first SEC title that counted (1984 was stripped by the SEC because of NCAA violations), made All-SEC first team three straight years and second team All-America in 1992. In his Florida career, Matthews threw for 9,287 yards and 74 touchdowns.
12. Alonzo Johnson, linebacker: When Wilber Marshall graduated in 1983 everyone fretted over who would pressure the quarterback. There was no need to worry because Alonzo Johnson was every bit as relentless as Wilber. He finished his career with 335 tackles including 55 for loss and 27 sacks. He was first team All-SEC and first team All-America in both 1984 and 1985.
11. Louis Oliver, safety (1985-88): When he came to Florida as a walk-on from Glades Central, Oliver was a skinny 180-pounder with suspect speed. He transformed himself into an incredible 228-pound physical specimen and lowered his 40 time to 4.3 while becoming the most feared hitter over the middle in all of college football. He picked off 11 passes in his career, loosened countless teeth and broke more than his share of ribs while making first team All-SEC and first team All-America.
1. Auburn at Alabama, November 29: If everything goes according to script, these teams will both be unbeaten just like last year.2. Georgia at South Carolina, September 13: There is a very good chance the SEC East will be decided in Columbia on this day.
3. LSU at Auburn, October 4: This is the first of two straight road games for LSU (Florida the next week), which will define LSU's season.
4. LSU at Florida, October 11: The schedule sets up for Florida to be 4-1 coming into this game (loss at Alabama). A win keeps the Gators in the thick of the SEC East race. If LSU is coming off a win at Auburn and then wins in Gainesville, it's a signal the Tigers are for real.
5. South Carolina at Auburn, October 25: South Carolina could very well come into this game unbeaten and ranked among the top five nationally. The expectation is that this will be a battle of unbeatens.
6. Florida-Georgia in Jacksonville, November 1: No matter what the records are, this is as big a game as there has been in the Will Muschamp era. Muschamp is 0-3 vs. his alma mater. Going 0-4 will not settle well with the alumni.
7. Alabama at LSU, November 8: If it turns out that LSU is for real, then this game will have huge implications. The RVs will start showing up in Baton Rouge on Wednesday morning if LSU is ranked in the top ten.
8. Auburn at Georgia, November 15: The odds are far better that Auburn will be unbeaten than Georgia, but no matter the record, Georgia will be seriously tough at home and strange things happen to Auburn when it visits Sanford Stadium.
9. South Carolina at Florida, November 15: Could the Gators come into this game the surprise team in the league with an 8-1 record? If so this could turn out to be the battle for the SEC East championship.
10. Mississippi State at Ole Miss, November 29: The Egg Bowl is always important to these rivals, but particularly this year when they both have a chance to be top 20 teams. This will be a battle of two of the top three quarterbacks in the SEC in Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) and Bo Wallace (Ole Miss).
Should the University of Florida bump up Billy Donovan's yearly pay to something in the neighborhood of what Kentucky is going to pay John Calipari?
The late Bobby "Blue" Bland was one of the great blues singers of the 20th century. One of his great standards was "Ask Me ‘bout Nothing but the Blues" from his "The Soulful Side of Bobby Bland" album. A lot of folks have done some pretty decent renditions of this song, but the best I've heard is by Boz Scaggs. Boz recorded this on his studio album "Come On Home" in 1997 but this is a song best heard live. This is a live performance of "Ask Me ‘bout Nothing but the Blues" by Boz Scaggs.