Coming Soon: Billy Donovan Court

Billy Donovan, 19-year head coach of the Gator Men’s Basketball team, will be honored Saturday night when the University of Florida basketball court gets a new name. The floor of Exatech Arena will be known as “Billy Donovan Court” as of tomorrow night. The dedication will take place when the Gators take on SEC opponent Vanderbilt at 8 p.m.

Donovan’s Deeds at UF

Donovan began his tenure in Gainesville in 1996. He led the Gators to six SEC regular-season Championships, four league tournament titles, 14 NCAA Tournaments appearances and four Final Fours.

AP18151665313263-300x200Not to mention, Florida won back-to-back National Championships under Donovan in 2006 and 2007. This remains the only time in the past 25 years where a men’s basketball team won back-to-back titles. Also, The Gators ranked No. 1 nationally in five different seasons under Donovan.

To say the man was successful at Florida is an understatement.

Over 19 seasons, Donovan racked up a 467-185 record.

In 2015, he took a job in the NBA and became the Oklahoma City Thunder’s heads coach.

How it All Went Down

In early October, UF athletic director Scott Stricklin and his predecessor, Jeremy Foley, took a trip to Oklahoma to tour Oklahoma and Oklahoma State campus facilities, or that’s what they said at least.

They met Donovan and his wife for dinner one evening to “catch up”.

However, that wasn’t exactly the purpose of their trip. Donovan “sensed” something was up.
Stricklin and Foley delivered the exciting news that night in Oklahoma.

After tomorrow, the O’Dome court will forever be attached to Donovan’s name.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.

Ole Miss Head Coaching Hunt

The Ole Miss Rebels finished their season 4-8 after a loss to in-state rival Mississippi State on Thanksgiving. On Sunday, news broke that head coach Matt Luke was fired after spending three seasons with the Rebels achieving a 15-21 overall record.

Luke’s Tenure at Ole Miss

Luke, former assistant coach at Ole Miss, was named interim head coach back in 2017 after Hugh Freeze’s firing. The Rebels went 6-6 in his interim year and decided to retain Luke. In his time at Mississippi, the team never finished better than sixth in the SEC West and did not have any bowl game appearances. According to Ole Miss athletic director, Keith Carter, it was time for a program change.

With Luke’s firing, there are now three head coaching vacancies in the SEC. Both Arkansas and Missouri are also searching for a new head football coach. Ole Miss is moving fast; the search is underway in Oxford.

“We want energy, passion and a track record for success,” said Carter.

Potential Candidates

Some possible candidates to replace Luke are:

  • Mike Norvell– Norvell has led a winning program at Memphis for the past four years. Currently, Memphis is 11-1, and the team is preparing to face Cincinnati in the AAC title game on Saturday. With a win, the Memphis Tigers would be AAC champions for the fourth consecutive year and would likely make it into a New Year’s Six bowl game. Because of Norvell’s offensive background and proximity to Ole Miss, it would not be surprising if Mississippi goes after him. It is only a matter of time before Norvell makes the jump to a Power 5 school.
  • Lane Kiffin– Kiffin, FAU head coach, has experience in the SEC and on championship staffs. In his three seasons at FAU, Kiffin has led the program to two Conference USA East Division titles.
  • Billy Napier– Head coach of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Billy Napier has guided the team to a 10-2 season and a berth in the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Napier has a strong offensive background having served as an assistant on Alabama, Clemson and Arizona State’s staffs.
  • Mike Leach– Leach, Washington State head coach, has gone 55-46 in eight seasons with the program. Prior to Washington State, Leach was the Texas Tech head coach for 10 seasons. He led the Red Raiders to winning records in all 10 seasons. Reports say that Arkansas has already met with Leach to discuss their vacancy.

 

Story can also be found via ESPN Gainesville at wruf.com. 

Bye Week Check-In with Coach Mullen

Bye Week Check-In with Coach Mullen

The Florida football team entered their bye week coming off a win against the Missouri Tigers. They’ll face in-state rival Florida State for their final game of the regular season next Saturday, Nov. 30.

Facing an Interim Head Coach

Florida State fired Willie Taggart, former head football coach, on Sunday, Nov. 3. This was following a 27-10 loss to Miami the previous day. Defensive line coach Odell Haggins took over as interim head coach. This is not Haggins’ first time serving as interim head coach for the Seminoles. He took over coaching duties after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.

Since Haggins became interim head coach, the Seminoles are 2-0 with wins against Boston College and Alabama State. Like the Gators, FSU has a bye before their matchup.

According to Florida head coach Dan Mullen, facing an interim head coach can come with some challenges. Coaching power allows for some personality to be thrown in the game.

Florida vs. Florida State kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. next Saturday in the Swamp.

Nick Sproles

Yesterday news broke that Florida third-string, walk-on quarterback Nick Sproles has entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Mullen confirmed this yesterday in his midweek teleconference. Sproles comes with high praise from the Florida program and will likely get some interest from smaller schools.

Sproles will remain with the Florida football program for the rest of the season and will graduate in the spring.

“He’s why they put the transfer portal in. He really would like the opportunity to go play next season, said Mullen.”

Players Leaving Early for the NFL

Mullen addressed the topic of players forgoing their senior seasons and leaving for the NFL. The bye week has given Florida’s coaching staff some time to sit down and talk with players about their futures.

About eight Gators are thinking about leaving early for the NFL and two to three could be serious about it, according to Mullen.

Story can also be found via ESPN Gainesville at wruf.com. 

LSU’s Explosive Offense Gets Bye Week

The LSU Tigers are currently undefeated and sitting at No. 4 in the AP Poll. They are coming off an explosive offensive performance against Vanderbilt and are now enjoying a bye week.

Joe Burrow and the Offense

The Tigers beat the Commodores 66-38 this past weekend. All eyes were on senior quarterback Joe Burrow. He threw for 398 yards and six touchdowns. Burrow is now tied with Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s quarterback, for second-most touchdown passes this season. In 2018, LSU threw 17 touchdowns total. It is safe to say they have stepped up their passing game. The Tigers are known for their elite defensive play, but not this year. Currently, LSU is the nation’s highest-scoring team. They have scored a total of 231 points in four games.
Burrow has caught the attention of many. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season following Saturday’s win.

LSU’s top scoring receiver went down Saturday against Vanderbilt. Sophomore wide receiver Terrace Marshall suffered a broken right foot. He is expected to be out for up to a month after undergoing surgery Sunday morning. Marshall currently has six touchdown receptions this season and is tied for second most at the FBS level.

On Deck for the Tigers

LSU’s next game is against the Utah State Aggies (2-1). According to head coach Ed Orgeron, the Tigers aren’t overlooking the Aggies or junior quarterback Jordan Love. Despite Utah State’s week one loss to Wake Forest, Love threw for over 400 yards in the game. He’s a proven quarterback.
Utah State and LSU will meet on Oct. 5 at 12 p.m. on the SEC Network. After that, they’ll face the No. 9 Gators, travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State and then will host the No. 7 Auburn Tigers in week nine.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.