WALKER: Donovan should be UK's first choice

No way did I expect Tubby Smith to be coaching at Minnesota next year. Everything I had heard about Tubby was all about him changing his staff at Kentucky. I thought it was a done deal and that he would not be fired or run off because of the public image thing. Maybe UK officials wanted to help Tubby pick his staff and he wanted more control if he was going to make a change.

I think he just got to the point he was tired of what was going on here. Everybody has a limit and he had reached his limit. After that, you are going against tradition and yourself. Fans are always going to have the bar at a high level here.

That probably wore on him.

Tubby did a great job here. Fans should realize that. One problem he did have was the recruiting and not having the caliber of players that we have been used to having. I think maybe he realized that. I know the fans realized that. When he had talent, despite his style of play, he won and went a long way. He ran a clean program. I am a little disappointed in terms of way it ended.

Now all the pressure is on Mitch Barnhart to get the right coach in here to replace Tubby.

If it was me, Billy Donovan is the first guy you have to call and let him turn you down. He has everything that everybody is looking for. He is very charismatic, in control, recruits well, has an outstanding style of play and knows Kentucky basketball.

Next, I might try that down I-64 (Rick Pitino). The reason is because he might talk Billy out of the job. I think Billy will consult him. Rick will tell him he has a great thing going on at Florida and does not have as much pressure on him. So, then I would have to let Rick turn it down. Nobody knows what Rick will do. He said he would not move, but he also said he wished he not left Kentucky.

The third guy for me gets tricky. I like the way John Calipari recruits. I like the way Tom Crean and Rick Barnes coach and recruit. One of those guys would be my next choice.

But it would be great to get Billy. He's getting ready to be the highest paid coach in college basketball next year. Florida will do anything to keep him and Kentucky will do anything to get him.

But with Randolph gone and Kentucky probably not getting the big recruits — and who is to say someone may not transfer — you have to get a big-name coach. At this point and stage in his career and the way he has built the Florida program, it will come down to which spot is a better sell for him in the future.

A couple of people I talked to said his wife might not want go through the pressure at Kentucky. That could be true unless it is an offer he could not refuse. If it is between $3.5 and $5 million a year, that is a lot of money and he is a good salesman with a good product. To me, getting Billy Donovan would be worth that kind of money to this program.

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