Dominating SEC won't be easy for Gillispie

With the way Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie seems to be stockpiling talent, it's possible to envision the Wildcats having a dominant stretch like they did under former coach Rick Pitino. Remember those days when it seemed like Pitino had UK in position to make the Final Four every year — or at least a regional final. To do that, a team has to recruit consistently well every year.

Gillispie is putting the pieces in place to have the type of talent that Pitino did on an annual basis. However, it's still not going to be as easy for Gillispie to dominate the Southeastern Conference as it was for Pitino during his UK years.

Why? Try Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl. Start with Donovan. The Gators are now a legitimate national power — and play Kentucky at least twice each year. Donovan's team might not challenge for a national title this year, but the Gators are much better now than they were from 1992-1998. And with the way Donovan recruits, Florida is not going to have many off years.

Same with Pearl, the flamboyant Tennessee coach. He's put new life back into the Volunteers — and he's not going away any time soon. Look at what he did recently when he got all-Big Ten forward Tyler Smith to transfer from Iowa and be granted immediate eligibility.

Pearl plays an exciting style that players like and that means he's going to recruit far better than the Vols did when Pitino or Tubby Smith were coaching Kentucky. That's at least two more difficult games per year in the SEC.

Several other SEC teams are now better than when Pitino coached and that makes most road games an adventure.

This doesn't mean Gillispie can't consistently win the SEC. It just means it will not be nearly as easy as when Pitino had his glorious run and the two main reasons are Donovan and Pearl.


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