A Big Blue domino enters UGA coaching search

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?

92 comments Add your comment


March 27th, 2009
5:27 pm

Oh my God, sign someone fast………..

Class of '98

March 27th, 2009
5:32 pm

What’s basketball?


March 27th, 2009
5:32 pm

Posted at 4:47, I was the first commentor at 5:27, oh yeah it is basketball. I guess everyone else was on the blog about Coach Richt’s awesome stereo in his truck that he drives around recruits while twittering away. Both hands on the wheel coach. That kid could be a future All-America.


March 27th, 2009
5:38 pm

I was kinda hoping Mizzou would lose last night where we could start talking with Anderson, oh well, here’s to OU losing and our chase of Capel begins.


March 27th, 2009
6:17 pm

Neither Mike Anderson or Jeff Capel “fit” into Kentucky’s view of who they want as their head coach. They ran Tubby out of town I believe primarily because of it, and both of the aforementioned coaches share that same pedigree. Some of those fans will never accept either of those coaches – no matter how many games they win!


March 27th, 2009
6:19 pm

Anderson and Capel are not coming to Athens. that would be a step down. Shoot a little lower like bringing back Jirsa.


March 27th, 2009
6:37 pm

Heck bring back Hugh….


March 27th, 2009
6:50 pm

I think Georgia should hire Billy Gillispie. Just because you don’t fit in at Kentucky doesn’t mean you can’t coach. They originally hired him for a reason.


March 27th, 2009
7:16 pm

They must be looking for the second coming.
now they dont’ even want to honor the buyout..
Why would anyone want to come there? (player or coach)


March 27th, 2009
7:18 pm

Now that Dobbs is hurt its clear that injuries will wreck the 09 season just like the 08 season. This means 3-4 losses and a crap bowl.


March 27th, 2009
7:21 pm

Gillespie could coach UGA’s football team defense

'ol sport

March 27th, 2009
7:42 pm

I am afraid if Adams and Evans don’t get busy, we will be like we were when Ray Goff was hired, looking to find anyone! All these schools searching for coaches are big time schools in overall athletics.
Now, why would anyone like Grant want to take a chance at KU where the fan base will not stand for anything short of perfection. Will Gillespie be hurt by his having gone there? Time will tell.
In the meantime, let’s worry about the Dawgs. NOW!!!


March 27th, 2009
7:49 pm

I really had my heart set on Anthony Grant of VCU, but it looks like Bama beat us to the punch and I think Grant was only waiting on the Billy Donovan to Kentucky scenerio. Now that it looks like Donovan is going to turn down Kentucky yet again, I think Grant will accept the job at Bama unless Georgia can show interest and outbid the Tide.

Bryan G.

March 27th, 2009
8:00 pm

The Bham news is reporting that Grant and Alabama have agreed in principle to a deal. http://blog.al.com/rapsheet/2009/03/former_vcu_coach_anthony_grant.html

Sven Ottke

March 27th, 2009
8:04 pm

Bring back Jirsa! That’s the level UGa is on!


March 27th, 2009
8:12 pm

Any coach interested in UGA should read the new book about Mike Adams and remember the lawyer joke–”there are some things that even a rat won’t do for money.” UK has cut 200 faculty jobs and professors haven’t gotten a pay raise in two years, to say nothing of coal mine safety issues, yet the state can throw six million dollars to make Gillispie go away and probably six million more at a new coach. It is a sad state of affairs when you have politicians running higher education.


March 27th, 2009
8:19 pm

Yep, ESPN news reports Alabama and Anthony Grant have come to terms on a contract. Go after Sean Miller.

Bo Williams

March 27th, 2009
8:28 pm

Looks like UGA is “sucking hind tit”.

Big Brother

March 27th, 2009
8:40 pm

TJay, Tubby was not run out of Lexington. His recruiting was aweful and the athletic department asked him to release his assistants and re-vamp his staff. Tubby didn’t want to do it, I understand why, but he eventually agreed to do it (other than David Hobbs) if he could bring his son Saul onto his staff. Kentucky has a longstanding anti-nepotism policy and they said no to his request. That’s when Tubby started looking elsewhere. Notice his staff at Minnesota did not include any of his KY assistants but does include Saul.

I still believe Tubby is one of, if not the best game coach in college basketball. He was just burned early on with a couple of high profile recruits (remember Rashad Carruth & Marvin Stone?) and he thought the McDonalds kids brought too much baggage so he stopped recruiting them. He might have been able to get away with that approach at some other schools but not Kentucky. The demands for performance are just too high.

As for the race issue, I won’t stupidly say there are no racists in Kentucky but it had absolutely nothing to do with Tubby leaving. For what it’s worth, Kentucky is no more racist than Ohio, Tennessee or any other state for that matter. Playing that card is just a cop out.


March 27th, 2009
8:48 pm

Damon Evans and Michael Adams had better have a bigger wallet than 2 million. The wait should have been over with Anthony Grant. Capel and others will cost much more for UGA to lure them away.


March 27th, 2009
9:24 pm

University of Kentucky “pulled a fast one” on Basketball Coach, Billy Gillespie. Read more: http://osi-speaks.blogspot.com/2009/03/university-of-kentucky-must-have-pulled.html#links

bank walker

March 27th, 2009
9:40 pm

Evans is waiting until after the tournament is over then they are gonna offer, and yes it will be someone with merit. Also, the Dawgs wasn’t never into Grant, that’s why he never was offered! Grant isn’t the best out there and Evans knows it!


March 27th, 2009
9:43 pm


March 27th, 2009
11:13 pm

As usual, Evans will fart around and get nothing but scraps. Bama got their guy and UGA has all their eggs in one basket. Looks like another Felton folks. How long has this search been going on…? I called this one a week ago. Adams and his puppet Evans are too busy perfecting the Dutch rudder I guess…


March 27th, 2009
11:36 pm

Evans, please talk to Sean Miller…..he is the best and only one out there where Georgia would be a step up…forget about Capel and Anderson cause it won’t happen


March 28th, 2009
12:29 am

dbc What do you mean “as usual”? This is Evans’ first major hire.

And at least be a little patient. The basketball season isn’t even over yet.

Thomas Brown

March 28th, 2009
2:18 am

Chip Towers, why don’t you tell us how great

MATTHEW STAFFORD is again, please ?

Now, we read that the San Francisco 49ers had a psychologist meet with the guy and asked him about his mother and father having divorced each other while he was still in high school. He not only refused to answer the question, but attacked the psychologist by asking him back how much money the 49ers were paying him for this psychoanalysis.

That doesn’t tell you anything ? Pay the guy millions and millions and he can’t even answer that simple question ?

I submit that this is not going to be the first such analysis of him, but is merely the most publicized.


I have another one for you. Another quote of another Bulldog Football Fan :


totally agree. Stafford was the unanimous leader of a team with no zeal or passion.
He was the leader of a team with multiple disciplinary problems on and off the field. Stafford is a tremendous player with a solid arm, but as a person, I don’t care much for him. I hear he’s kind of a north end of a South Bound Horse.

I’m the guy who would rather have an 8-4 team with every player busting their asses getting to the football, and getting fired up after making a play, than having a championship team with a bunch of lazy, whiny, undisciplined gangsters.

So, in that sense, I am glad that Cox is stepping up. I’m glad our team is beginning to realize that it’s passion and other intangibles that unites teams and leads them to success.

Reading about Murray leading his team to a state title after recovering from a broken leg gets me fired up. I don’t think leadership will be a problem this fall, and it’ll take us a good ways. As always, I think it’ll take us a few games to “warm up,” but once we do, I think we have a shot to be a very good team.

But I guess I shouldn’t make predictions until G-day, eh? We’ll see.


By egatch of Franklin Tennessee this week.

I see the volmits baseball team has a LOSING RECORD and only 1 win in SEC play with a 1-6 SEC record after we slaughtered them in baseball tonight. Hey General Neyland, if your football recruiting is so great, why does Georgia have 7 Top 100 Football Players in the nation, and the vols only 3 ? Why then too does UGA have four 5-Star Recruits this season and the vols only 1 ? Why is UGA ranked TWICE AS HIGH as the volmits at Number 4 UGA and Number 8 the vols ?


Tell us that


There is no question that UGA greatly out-recruited Tennessee and Florida this year.


March 28th, 2009
2:52 am

Pitino or Calipari , most likely the latter are the Dawgs target …… and they will get him. They didn’t want Grant , no Gators.


March 28th, 2009
7:07 am

Thomas, as you probably know, a Psychological Evaluation and Psychoanalysis are two very different things. The Niners probably want him BAD and are trying to throw the Lions off of him. In any event, I think Stafford will be alright.


March 28th, 2009
7:51 am

why am i not surprised that daman evans is asleep in athens while the best candidate for georgia has just signed with alabama.

my question is why did georgia fire our coach when they did if they were not going to secure one before the all hiring began.
bradley wrote last weekend for the dawgs to hire grant NOW, DAMON SAT ON HIS HANDS ONCE AGAIN!

give mal moore and alabama credit they quickly found their coach and hired him. this guy has all the credentials to be a great coach in the south. he has already demostrated that he is a proven winner and a hell of a recruiter.

one thing lacking at uga has been the inablility to recruit and grant was huge in building the florida program that won two national championships by signing quality players.

i believe georgia made a huge mistake by hiring damon evans and we are seeing that even more with the latest inaction by mr.evans.

there are many top basketball prgrams looking for a head coach and we will have to wait in line until we get our opportunity.yes, we will end up with what is left.

Central Georgia Dawg

March 28th, 2009
8:37 am

Let’s all take a breath and see what Damon has in store for us. I think he is going to shock us all. We have the money, recruiting territory, and want to make this program relevant. I think Mike Anderson is perfect for us, but I’m going to place my faith in our AD. Every program at GEorgia has a winning record, except for Men’s Basketball. Not to mention, he learned from Vince how to get the person he wants.


March 28th, 2009
8:49 am

Mike Anderson


March 28th, 2009
9:58 am

hop, so you are saying that Coach Dooley is a poor judge of character and made a hude mistake to groom Evans as his replacement? Interesting.

UGA dummy

March 28th, 2009
10:18 am

Bring back Harrick, then typical UGA recruits wont have to worry about classes or grades.


March 28th, 2009
10:29 am

Last I checked Ok and Mizzou were still dancing if those are still who Damon has his sights set.


March 28th, 2009
10:31 am

Shock and awe Damon, shock and awe.

Not awe and shucks.


March 28th, 2009
10:41 am

Thomas Brown do you sleep with your little football?

Dawg Tired

March 28th, 2009
10:57 am

Why would coaches like Anderson, Capel, and Pitino leave schools with better basketball pedigrees to come here? I know I may be surprised if Evans comes up with a good hire. Was Grant a bad choice by Alabama? If not, why weren’t we after him? Does DE have a commitment from someone already but can’t comment on it because they’re still in the tournament? Not likely (besides being unethical).

Please forgive me if I’m not overly impressed by this idea of “sticking to our game plan.” I’ve seen too many of Willie Martinez’ “game plans.”

Well, at least it not something important like football!

Captain Funbags

March 28th, 2009
11:12 am

UGA will either hire Pitino or Calipari. They will also sign Nick Montana.


March 28th, 2009
11:13 am

Guys, do you REALLY think we have shot at Anderson, Capel, or Miller? The ONLY thing we bring is a great recruiting area. They are already at better programs (both now and historically) than we have. We have lousy facilities and one of the worst fan bases in the SEC, which doesn’t have good fan bases to begin with. We can’t even sell out our puny gym. My wife went to a high school in Indiana with a gym bigger than ours. At least the stage on one end is gone at Stegman.

Maybe Gillespie will be interested, but I would even think a more prominent program like Arizona may go after him if they can’t get first choice. Grant would have been the best choice where it really was a step up, and we missed that opportunity to a similar school (as far as bball support) in a lousy town. We only offer potential because of the huge number of quality players in the area.


March 28th, 2009
11:31 am

Evans is probably busy explain the job description to the public relations firm that is handling finding a new coach. The will have a list of recommendations available sometime in late May.

Shards 1967

March 28th, 2009
12:22 pm

The reason that a big coach would be attracted to UGA is because they are competitive men. Period. A competitor would relish the idea of
b-u-i-l-d-i-n-g a Championship calber team. He would know going in that UGA fans want to be competitive year in and year out. This would mean that to win the East about every 3rd or 5th year and have a TRUE shot at the SEC tourney championship, every other year or every thrid year would be a perfect ennvironment. He could build HIS legacy.
UGA fans will never, ever expect to be a KY or a NC or even a U of F in bball. They want a competitive, hustling, quality product to be proud of and that is why a great young coach would go to UGA> GA DAWGS!!


March 28th, 2009
12:46 pm


March 28th, 2009
12:47 pm

He doesn’t feel appreciated at MSU.

Rabun Dawg

March 28th, 2009
12:48 pm

Hmm, since UK just opened up, and Alabama signed Grant,our short list may have gotten longer? If UK does not go after Travis Ford, why not us? I would think that Capel, Anderson, and the like are already set where they are. Pitino or Calipari, get serious, why in the world would they leave “basketball Schools” for UGA? I would love to think they would, but I doubt that they are “shopping” around for jobs. Hopefully Mr. Evans has some good things going on behind the scenes, but time is getting to be of the essence I presume!

Rabun Dawg

March 28th, 2009
12:52 pm

gdawg in zoo, Izzo, really not that happy at MSU? That would be a real “coup” if that could happen!


March 28th, 2009
1:07 pm

Is Sam Mitchell in the mix?
*Played @ Mercer
*Undrafted free agent-Played in the NBA 10 plus years,
not a great talent, tremendous discipline and hustle
*Coached in the NBA – was Coach of the Year
*High quality individual


March 28th, 2009
1:11 pm

zoo, just as long as Izzo brings Lupay. She was calm as a cucumber in that nail bitter last night. And for the record, Izzo blew away my final four picks. Drat.


March 28th, 2009
1:36 pm

For all of those who think that Stegman Stadium is not enough of a basketball venue to support a successful basketball program, may I direct you to Butler College. Its basketball area is the gym in which the movie Hoosiers was filmed. Not exactly a palace.

Yet they make the NCAA’s on a regular basis. It is called coaching, desire, discipline. They have a lot of it in BB at Butler. There does not appear to be much of it in the UGA BB program. Perhaps a Butler coach might also be successful at UGA if the instant gratification nutjobs can be kept at bay long enough for a coach to build a program. But the nutjobs always yell the loudest, so maybe that will never happen.

Think about it.

Gen. Stoopnagle

March 28th, 2009
2:05 pm

Man, some of ya’ll need to take a break. This search is being deliberate and patient to find the right guy.

On Grant, did none of you notice that he sat on Bama’s offer until it was clear the job he really wanted wasn’t opening? Damon & Co. didn’t even meet with him. Probably because the search firm checked him out and – rightly – evaluated him as non-committal until the UK/UF job settled. I’d rather be UGA, playing it cool, than Bama relying on Donovan to make a decision before you know you have a coach.

Georgia needs a coach with a proven record on the recruiting trail, who can connect with the AAU talent in Atlanta and coach it up. When we land a big fish – our list and UK’s list are going to be mutually exclusive – all of you haters will just have to eat it.

The tournament is still going on and one of the coaches still coaching might be at UGA next year. You can doubt it all you want, quote the relative prestige, etc… but the one thing no one we’re competing with for a coach has that we do is ESPN’s money. And Evans, unlike Dooley, is going to spend some of it to get competitive in basketball. (Yes, I know UK has SEC money, too and will spend $4-6 million/year for a coach – that’s exactly why we won’t be looking at the same coaches.)

Getting the right person takes careful effort and being hasty is rarely being careful.