Billy D is now officially a past chapter in the annals of Gators Sports, however scintillating his reign as the UF winningest basketball coach has been while it lasted. In the aftermath of the frenzy of the March Madness, the foremost thought in every gator’s mind is surely whether this would be the last we see of him. Our sentimental self says that he would continue to be part of the Gator Nation. However, the rational half tells us that this would be as good as anytime to leave as surely there is no higher mountain, in college basketball that is, to scale after the two-peat.
So yesterday, my son broke the breaking news to me. And today I received an email from the UF President destined for all alumni and friends of the Gators and his opening paragraph reads:
“If you're like me, it was a something of a bittersweet moment when you heard that head basketball Coach Billy Donovan was leaving the Gators to take over as coach of the Orlando Magic.”
This picture, taken from the Gatorzone basketball page, will forever be etched into the collective memory of Gator Nation, not as a "hired gun" as one newspaper columnist would put it, but rather as a Gators' Favored Son whose link with UF will never be severed, wherever he may be.
I would have to say it is neither, neither bitter nor sweet, just accepting the reality. Even the Japanese culture that worships life-long commitment and loyalty is changing with time. Those who stay on the same ship for long are an endangered species, even to the extent of being misconstrued as lacking the opportunity (read credentials) to jump ship.
But ultimately one has to answer to oneself, and no others. They are those who savor challenges, never staying in one place for too long, like a maverick fighter going after the next prize. And they are those who like stability, believing that a relationship is like an old brew, the longer it is, the more exquisite the taste.
For gators who like challenges, this is like a god-send, trying to achieve three-peat with different coaches.
So what is left is to join Bernie “in wishing Billy Donovan and his family the best of luck in his future endeavors.”