All day today the sports world was buzzing. A highly respected coach had won his 3rd career NCAA Championship. He came to a program when it was nothing and single-handedly built it into a legitimate powerhouse. This coach is now on the Mount Rushmore of college basketball coaches. John Wooden, Adolf Rupp, Bobby Knight, Coach K, and now Jim Calhoun are the only coaches to win at least 3 titles. Jay Bilas, Pat Forde, Doug Gottlieb and all the college basketball regulars spent the day praising Calhoun for his accomplishment and dismissing the upcoming NCAA sanctions that may still be growing under the surface. Where does Calhoun rank among his peers? Behind Coach K but ahead of Bobby Knight they say. All day I listened to this rhetoric wondering, where is Billy D in all this? And I didn’t hear his name mentioned once.
The same way that Bill Simmons is still upset about the Boston Celtics losing the 1985 championship 25 years later, I will be thinking about this season’s loss to Butler for a long time, and not just for my personal financial impact. This Gator team should have beat Butler. I am honestly still not sure how it happened. The Gators were up 11 with 9 minutes left. Alex Tyus just woke up the crowd with a couple of dunks and he and Macklin were unstoppable down low. Then 30 seconds later Macklin picks up his 4th foul and the game is changed for good. After the loss I told myself it would be ok. The gators would have been a cute final four team but couldn’t compete with the Kansases and Ohio States of the tourney. But Ohio State had been upset by Kentucky the day before, and the next day VCU took out Kansas. That’s when the gravity of the situation really hit me. Butler would be taking the Gators spot in the National Championship game against either a 3 or 4 seeded UCONN or Kentucky. We had beaten Kentucky during the season and UCONN was just a slightly more talented BYU team right? We had a chance against either squad. But it was not to be.
Now we say goodbye to the #1 recruiting class of 2007. Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons were all that remained after early departures from Jai Lucas, Adam Allen, and Nick Calathes. The #8 recruiting class of 2008 is already whittled down to just Erving Walker after early departures from Kenny Kadji. Allan Chaney, Eloy Vargas, and Ray Shipman so it looks like we may be rebuilding for a year or two. How big of an impact will Beal have as an incoming freshman that plays the same position as the Gators only 2 returning starters? Can Patric Young develop enough of an inside game to be as dominant as his sculpted body makes him look? I don’t know. But I would feel a lot better waiting for the answers to these questions if ESPN analysts were talking about Donovan on the Rushmore of college coaches instead of Jim Calhoun. And as far as I am concerned, they should be.