Bret Bearup: Kentucky is The Big Stage

"Billy Donovan would do a tremendous job at Kentucky," said Bret Bearup. "He would be the obvious choice. Donovan could have Kentucky back in the hunt for a national title quicker than just about anyone in the country."

Before he became the trusted right hand man for Stan Kronke, owner of the NBA Denver Nuggets organization, former Kentucky Wildcats basketball player Bret Bearup was one of the more prominent names in the behind-the-scenes world of college basketball. The typical fan may not have heard of him, but everyone inside the game knows who Bret Bearup is. To say that Bret Bearup is well-connected in the world of sports is like saying Paul McCartney knows a few songs.

Reporters find Bret refreshing because he doesn't play politics, doesn't mince words, says what is on his mind and is brutally frank. As a result, Bret is often associated with some controversy in the world of sports, a role he meets head on and a role where he seems to flourish.

When Kentucky abruptly found itself in the position of needing a new basketball coach, several names began to immediately surface. They were big names as you might imagine, such as Billy Donovan, coach of the defending national champions Florida Gators as well as Bill Gillespie of Texas A&M and Jay Wright of Villanova and Tom Crean of Marquette. Bearup knows all of them, and knows them pretty well.

"Billy Donovan would do a tremendous job at Kentucky," said Bearup, who has not spoken to Donovan since Tubby's departure was announced. "He would be the obvious choice. Donovan could have Kentucky back in the hunt for a national title quicker than just about anyone in the country."

Donovan has already been to the national championship game twice and won it once. His team is currently the number one seed and playing for the honor of defending the title this year, "He is happy at Florida," Bearup said, "and they love him there. His situation is real good and I know he is happy there."

Bearup believes Donovan is successful because of his enthusiasm and passion for the game as well as his relentless work ethic, "Billy has it all. He is a great floor coach and he is among the best, if not the best at recruiting. A lot of coaches will come up with a big class then relax for a while, or let up. Billy is out there every year bringing in the talent."

But would he consider leaving Florida?

"You know what, I am not sure if they can land him," Bearup said, "but what I believe is, Kentucky holds the only job outside of the NBA that he would even think about. That is the ONE job that might make him stop and listen."

Despite Donovan's success at Florida, Bearup thinks that Donovan might still consider the Kentucky job a step up. "Florida has been great to Billy and they love him there," Bearup said, "And why wouldn't they? Look at what he has done at Florida. The results speak for themselves. But still Kentucky is Kentucky. Donovan knows Kentucky is the big stage and he will think about that. That job doesn't come up very often and Donovan is one of the few guys that can really handle it. Whether he'd be willing to make a move like that – I don't know. I do know this. They (UK Administration) had better bring a boat load of money. But he'd be worth every penny."

What about the pressure associated with the job.

"Donovan has been an assistant at Kentucky and coached in the SEC," Bearup said, "He knows all there is to know about the pressure that the coach has at Kentucky."

As for other coaches?

Bearup was frank. "There might be a few coaches out there that shy away from the pressure at Kentucky, but you offer a coach a big contract with a lot of zeros, and most of them will just say, ‘give me your best shot.'" Bearup thinks that Tubby Smith will do well in Minnesota and wished him well, "Tubby is one of the best in the business," Bearup said. "You give him the players and he will win you championships. The problem is, he just hasn't been getting the players. He has done an amazing job with the talent he has had on the floor, but you need the horses to run."

"Tubby is going into a situation that is good for him," Bearup continued, "He has a lot of credibility and that programs needs it. He is a terrific coach. Kentucky goes after a whole different level of player that Minnesota. He will win in Minnesota. They (the fans) will love him there." Stay tuned for more on Bearup's views with regard to some other names that have popped up as potential candidates for the Kentucky job.


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