Florida first-baseman Matt LaPorta was drafted in the first round (seventh overall) today by the Milwaukee Brewers. This makes LaPorta a millionare. Congrats kid. LaPorta deserves the dough after the incredible senior season (and career) he turned in for the Gators. LaPorta, the SEC baseball player of the year, batted. 402 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI. LaPorta is represented by sports agent Scott Boras.
The saga is over...we hope. Billy Donovan, the prodigal son, signed a contract with the University of Florida today making him the highest paid coach in college basketball. His annual salary of $3.5 million also makes him the highest paid employee at the university. Urban Meyer, Florida's football coach, makes $3.2 million per year.
During his Welcome Back Billy Press Conference, Donovan indicated that he plans to coach at Florida until he retires. We'll see. It has been reported that Donovan cannot coach in the NBA for five years due to terms of the most recent contract he signed with the Orlando Magic to break the contract he signed with Orlando Magic that he never wanted to sign in the first place...
Donovan is probably pretty embarrassed about how this whole thing went down. He should be. He caused a lot of people in Orlando to work through the weekend. Other than a little well-deserved red face, however, Donovan shouldn't feel bad about last week's flip-flop. Dismiss what some columnists and reporters have written about Donovan in the last week. He's no coward. He's not wishy-washy. Far from it, actually. He did what he believed in despite pressure to do otherwise. Never mind that most of the pressure was caused by Donovan himself. We'll give you one mulligan, Billy. You've earned it...
That idea got me thinking. What if we all got life mulligans? Top 10 do-over list:
10) Eddie Murphy's singing career: The comedian who makes us laugh with his vocal chords ("Roxanne" in 48 Hours. The donkey singing in all those Shrek movies. Buckwheat on Saturday Night Live. There have been so many.) actually recorded an album in the 80s...remember? This was a bad idea. Here's a link to the music video to his debut song, "Party All The Time," featuring non other than Rick James. CLICK THIS LINK. The life mulligan goes to me, however, for buying the record.
9) The first guy to ever eat squash. I hate that guy.
6) The penny.
5) Jaws II and Jaws III
4) Heroin turned out to be a pretty bad idea.
2) Reality TV. Take it back.
What were they thinking here? Did it get too hot in Comiskey Park?
Former NBA head coach Billy Donovan will be introduced as Florida's basketball coach today. The 42-year-old coach is expected to provide leadership to the Gators' rudderless hoops program. Gainesville is glowing with excitement. "The possibilities are endless," said one fan. A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. today. UF's sports information department moved the friendly meet-and-greet session to the football stadium's press conference facility to accommodate reporters. Donovan brings professional basketball experience to the Gators' program. He was the head coach of the Orlando Magic for about three days.
Florida remains mum on whether or not Billy Donovan is back at Florida. Blame lawyers for this delay. While we wait for official word that the second tenure of Billy Donovan has begun, let's take a poll: Which recent Florida sports story is more bizarre?
This is a tempting vote. Nothing seems quite as bizarre as Ricky Williams, one of the potentially greatest running backs of all time who would rather sit around in northern California, smoke doobies and teach yoga.
Somewhere in Gainesville Billy D. is praying for guidance. This is a funny picture of Billy considering his current predicament. It has been rumored (by me, right now) that Billy D. will announce tomorrow that he couldn't bear coaching the Orlando Magic because of religious reasons. Magic, after all, infers blasphemy.
Donovan pleaded with officials to change the name to the Orlando Miracles. You know the rest of the story.
But still in last place.
A beautiful marriage here. Cheaters and liars are meant for each other.
That's right. In case you haven't heard, leaders of the Florida High School Athletic Association (in all of their brilliance) recently sanctioned cheerleading as an official varsity sport. Feel sorry for the high school sports reporters around the state charged with picking all-county cheerleading teams. (And you thought soccer parents were crazy.) Don't forget, reporters, guys are cheerleaders, too.
[Now from our News of the Weird desk]...The Orlando Magic is still without a head coach and so, too, is Florida. This seems to be the case this morning, according to several reports.
A few days after dual press conferences and tears and yada-yada-yada, Billy Donovan wants out of his deal with the Orlando Magic and (NOW THIS IS AN ASSUMPTION) wants to return to Florida. Only one question from The Miami Herald reporter...Mr. Donovan, Why do you torment us so?
It appears UF basketball has emerged from the Twilight Zone scorned but unscathed. That's assuming Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley gives Donovan his old job. As for the Magic, well, that's a funny name for a basketball team.
Here's a sequence of events leading up to today's madness...
TUESDAY: Donovan tells reporters that neither he nor his agent have spoken with the Orlando Magic.
WEDNESDAY: Donovan accepts deal to coach the Magic.
THURSDAY: It's official.
FRIDAY: Press conferences. Tears. Florida contacts former UF assistant Anthony Grant. Grant giddy about opportunity of a lifetime. Spreads the news. Donovan bumps his head. [FIGURATIVE]
SATURDAY: UF officials fly to Virginia to interview Grant. Donovan, still dazed and concussed, calls Foley and, like magic, Foley leaves Virginia.
Oh, for a transcript of that phone conversation. Even better, maybe it was communicated by text messages. (Because who has the time to talk on the phone anymore.) Let us use our imaginations...
DONOVAN: Hey, Jeremy [Foley]. Look, we need to talk. I've been searching my soul. I mean, really living in the moment and...
You say this is no time for jokes. I disagree. Times like these are the best time for jokes. Levity relieves tension and the fear of death.
So, Foley returns to Gainesville and leaves Grant at the altar. Grant, in kind, issues this statement:
"Due to the amount of media speculation regarding my involvement with the University of Florida coaching vacancy, I felt it necessary to address the situation. I have been contacted by the University of Florida regarding the coaching vacancy. I have not had any in-person contact with any Florida representatives, nor have I been offered the job. At this point, I will have no further comment on the situation. All my focus is on my responsibilities at VCU."
Translation: I'm not going anywhere. I love VCU and I love being employed.
Grant should have consulted one of his mentors about how to handle job speculation. Deny. Deny. Deny.
No word yet on whether or not Donovan will be allowed back in Gainesville to coach his old team. He just won two national championships, so it would seem that could be an option. Of course, he might return to the Magic.
The NBA team released this statement Monday morning:
"While Central Florida, the Orlando Magic and Billy were energized with the announcement of his contract signing on Friday, we know there was a different feeling in Gainesville and people have been tugging at him since that time," the Magic said in a statement.
"Billy is conflicted with those emotions and the opportunity he has ahead in Orlando and in the NBA. We've had numerous conversations and a personal visit in Gainesville with Billy over the last 48 hours, and we have a commitment from him that the dialogue between us will continue."
A few questions for us to answer this morning:
Should Florida take Billy back?
Is there a psychiatrist in the house?
Did the Orlando Magic really just call Billy Donovan "conflicted" and then say the team still wants to work out a deal?
Is it possible that Billy Donovan could wind up at South Carolina? I hear the Gamecocks like pro-team retreads.
NOTE: Someone owes me money. You know who you are.
Why is Billy Donovan receiving negative press from around the state one day after leaving the University of Florida for the NBA? Get over it. So he lied about talking with the Orlando Magic. Nothing personal. Just business. Everyone saw this coming and if you didn't then you're the one guy/gal who thinks Florida has a chance at making the NCAA Tournament next season. Let's get this Anthony Grant press conference over with and get on with the summer. So long Billy. Good luck in Orlando.
I really think that Foley dropped the ball by dragging his feet on the contract situation. I think that if Donovan had signed a contract, he would have been more commited to staying. It goes without saying that Donovan did wonders for gator basketball. But that being said, Donavan was lucky to have the 04's. That was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime situation. It will be interesting to see what kind of success Donovan has in the future. In the pros or back in college. As for the gators...if they can get Anthony Grant....they might be better off in the long run. What do you think?
jim in tampa