Home is where the heart is for Billy Donovan

Success carries a price. Since Florida won its second consecutive NCAA title, Billy Donovan has turned down offers to coach at Kentucky and Memphis, before taking a job with the Orlando Magic last week, only to do a 360-degree turnaround less than 24 hours.

Donovan's desire to return as coach of the Gators came within hours after agreeing to begin his professional coaching career in a city known for Mickey Mouse, Disney World and Islands of Adventure.

In the midst of trying to figure out his future as a coach, Donovan, a former assistant at Kentucky, is dealing with the departure of his best players, while consistently searching for replacements on the recruiting trail.

It has indeed been a whirlwind of a ride for Donovan who has had little time to enjoy a summer break because of his success with the Gators, especially during the past two seasons.

The circus is similar to the one that consistently followed Rick Pitino during his tenure as coach at Kentucky. After Pitino found his niche with the Wildcats, the professionals kept knocking and knocking until he buckled and gambled only to lose.

Had Donovan accepted the Kentucky position, it likely would have been a repeat of the Pitino era, something the program didn't need at this moment and time.

Kentucky needed stability. Based on Donovan's actions during the past week, Donovan made the right choice when he turned down the Kentucky job. Billy Gillispie wanted to be in Lexington and won't be distracted by outside sources before he even coaches in his first game as coach of the Wildcats.

In today's coaching profession, patience is limited. You win and others want a piece of the success, jeopardizing the loyalty factor. On the other hand, losing often results in a pink slip with little room for error.

Donovan's flip-flop will cost him a little down the road, especially on the recruiting trail. Other teams in the Southeastern Conference will try to capitalize on Donovan's back-and-forth decision-making skills and recruits will often wonder if he's got on foot in Gainesville and the other elsewhere.

The same questions hindered Pitino's recruiting efforts during his last few seasons in Lexington. One thing is for sure: Donovan will have to earn back some trust during his embarrassing debacle last week.

The only good thing is the fact that Donovan knows that home – Gainsville – is where the heart is. It's a shame it took a bizarre turn of events for Donovan to figure it out, a good thing for both parties involved.


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