Word on the Street: Billy Gillispie Out at Kentucky, Billy Donovan Leaving Florida for UK
Bear in mind of course, that this is not confirmed [yet]. But, it seems pretty likely. Especially when you factor in the Gainsville Sun's other report: Billy Donovan, head coach at Florida, has already agreed to replace Gillispie.
Yeah, freaking insane. I know. But it's like Doug Gottlieb once told me: if you're going to fire a coach or let him walk, you make sure you've got a list of five guys in your pocket who will sign on immediately. And if the Sun is right, Kentucky already made sure that was well played, not that they would have any problems pulling a new coach, what with the low expectations he would have.
Plus, it would make a hell of a lot more sense for Kentucky to ax Gillispie now, as opposed to after the tournament when they could try and lure someone like Jay Wright of Villanova or Jeff Capel of Oklahoma.
It's worth noting there are pretty fascinating contract issues at play here as well. For starters, Donovan has a one-month window (March 1 to April 1) in which he can leave Florida without having to pay a $500,000 buyout clause, although he forfeits a loyalty clause by doing so. And on Gillispie's part, well, he never signed a formal contract!
But wait! There's more! See, there's also a rumor in place that Florida will only acquiesce to Donovan's departure if they know they can get a shot Anthony Grant, VCU's current coach, who is on a "make me some cash" tour of SEC schools right now. Which may explain why Grant isn't returning any phone calls to Alabama's athletic director.
Grant, of course, coached at Florida, and would, most likely, love to return there. For Donovan's part, he would get to go head-to-head with his mentor Rick Pitino, which, while difficult, would present a pretty spectacular challenge for a coach who has already won two national titles.
Again, none of this has actually happened. BUT IT COULD! And I actually think it will (the actions of all parties involved make way too much sense for those dominoes not to fall like that). So when it does, it should make for some pretty entertaining athletic sound bites. My guess is that Kentucky "pulls an A-Rod" and fires Gillispie in the middle of Louisville's Sweet 16 game, just to stick it to Pitino.