Dominoes were starting to fall in several schools’ searches for a new men’s basketball coach. Now a big blue bowling ball just rolled through and dominoes are being scattered all over the place.
The University of Kentucky was to announce at 4:30 p.m. Friday that it has relieved Billy Gillispie of his coaching duties. So a Division I coaching landscape that included notable vacancies at Georgia, Alabama, Arizona and Virginia, suddenly includes an opening at one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country.
What does that mean for Georgia, which is seeking a replacement for ousted head coach Dennis Felton? Probably not as much as it does at Alabama. The Crimson Tide just this week was parading VCU coach Anthony Grant around campus in Tuscaloosa, a clear sign that he was their main target. But Grant quite notably did NOT accept their reported offer. That’s more understandable in light of this latest development.
Just the mere speculation that Gillispie could be dismissed after just his second season had already produced rumors and reports that the ‘Cats would again be coming after Florida’s Billy Donovan. And if Donovan decides to head to the Blue Grass state this time, Grant would surely be the Gators’ pick, as he was when Donovan briefly left for the Orlando Magic.
BREAKING NEWS: Reports at 8 p.m. Friday night say Grant accepted Alabama’s offer to become head coach.
If Donovan doesn’t work out, word is UK will look to former Wildcat Travis Ford, who’s now at Oklahoma State. But the Cats may also want to look some of the “hot” coaching prospects that appear to be on Georgia’s radar. Missouri’s Mike Anderson and Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel have made a big name for themselves in this year’s NCAA tournament. So have Pitt’s Jamie Dixon and Xavier’s Sean Miller and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
I talked to Georgia AD Damon Evans briefly when Bama went hard after Grant. I wanted to find out if the Tide’s level of interest in Grant, one of the hot candidates for 2009, bothered him or impacted Georgia’s search.
“All I’m thinking about is doing what’s best for the University of Georgia. I’ve got to stick to our game plan,” Evans said.
I tried to get hold of Evans again Friday but I assume his answer would be the same regarding this latest development. Do you think it will impact the Bulldogs’ search?