The blogosphere is just crawling with this story (except for Orson Swindle, who is conspicuously silent. I of course would respond to this kind of disappointment with profanity and 5th grade mathematics, but we all mourn differently.) Paul WesterDawg however makes the excellent point that Bruce Pearl should be doing the happy dance across his office in Knoxville this morning. The Vols are the odds-on favorite to capitalize should Florida stumble next season. Tennessee was already returning more key players (Chris Lofton, principally) than the Gators. Clearly this doesn't hurt the Dawgs either, but we're still a long way from really capitalizing on turmoil in Gainesville. But it is sort of funny given Billy Donovan's declaration in turning down the Kentucky job that he just loves the University of Florida.
Ironically, Florida would have been in a much better situation, at least from a headhunter's perspective, if Donovan had taken the Kentucky job back in April. All the big name coaches who would have salivated over this job then are already spoken for. Unless of course you count Anthony Grant, a former Donovan assistant now in charge at Virginia Commonwealth, whom Florida AD Jeremy Foley has already received permission to talk to. Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports thinks the Gators will be fine, noting "Foley is a smart enough guy. He hired Donovan and Urban Meyer." True enough. Of course he also hired this O.G. . .
Maybe that old superstition is false. Maybe mediocrity can strike twice in the same spot. . .
In non-basketball news, Georgia joins Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia in awaiting the announcement from Charlotte Independence (NC) cornerback Makiri Pugh on his college choice. Pugh was not a big name prospect at first, but once his junior highlight tape began to circulate, he became a much hotter commodity. His most recent scholarship offer came from Virginia Tech.Pugh is a little like Paul Oliver, a big (6'0, 190 lb.) corner with better than average speed. Before any of us gets too deep into that comparison, I'd also like to note that Pugh reports a 3.55 GPA, a 1580 SAT and is on track to graduate next spring.
Pugh was quoted in the Atlanta Journal yesterday as saying "Right now, [Independence] has won 108 straight games. Before that at DeMatha [where he played his freshman and sophomore seasons, MD] I only lost one game. So I am used to winning and being in programs that win." If that's the case, it probably comes down to Clemson and Georgia. I think there's a better than 50% chance we land him given the three Independence High grads who have played at Georgia under Coach Richt (MoMass, Joe Cox and Mario Raley), even though none of them was actually at Independence during Pugh's time there.
As I've said before, I also think that our staff's particular recruiting style tends to give us an edge with recruits from powerhouse schools like Independence. Players from those schools are also less inclined to buy the "early playing time" line because they're used to waiting behind talented players already. I'll be back later with word on Pugh's decision. In the meantime, if you're travelling through north Florida and a sharp dressed guy with a widow's peak driving an 18 wheeler full of cash pulls up behind you, for Heaven's sake, let him by. We really don't want to mess this up.
Sort of like Nick Saban, but with 300% more Armani and 85% less profanity. So long, Billy. Vaya con Dios.