A unique take on sports news, updated several times throughout the day.
Another Internets success story
Last Friday, Fred Marks wore a black tie to his Tampa office, where the 24-year-old sells commercial real estate, because he was mourning the loss of the basketball coach of his beloved Gators to the deep-pocketed Magic of the NBA. "I was crushed," Marks tells SI.com. "People in the office were laughing at me, but I told them this was a really serious event. It was something that was going to change Florida basketball for the next decade."
Now that Donovan is apparently reversing course and returning to Gainesville, though, Marks will break out his special Gator tie tomorrow in celebration. "I'm shocked," he says. "I'm just amazed that he's staying."
Marks, a third-generation Gator who roomed in college with offensive tackle Max Starks (now of the Steelers), certainly did his part. He launched his Web site the day before Florida beat Ohio State this April for its second straight NCAA title, originally hoping to keep Billy the Kid from taking the Kentucky job. The goal was to convince the Gator nation -- especially well-heeled boosters -- to rally behind their coach. Marks posted the phone number of the Florida athletic office and urged Gator fans to call in to stress how much they wanted the school to pony up whatever it might take to keep Donovan around.
Gator fans withstood the relatively brief Kentucky scare, but last Thursday Donovan appeared gone when he reportedly agreed to a five-year, $27.5 million deal with the Magic. A dismayed Marks transformed his site into one of "mourning and grieving." He even considered posting a sign outside Donovan's exclusive gated community reading, "Please Don't Do It, Billy," but decided against it.
"I just thought, What can I do to change Billy's mind?" Marks said. "I'm just one person. What's a 99-cent poster going to do vs. $27 million?"
It wouldn't have been an unprecedented move for Marks. After the 2001 season, when it became clear that Florida football coach Steve Spurrier was leaving the Gators for the NFL but before he took the Redskins job, Marks posted a sign outside Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver's home that said: "Mr. Weaver, Please Sign Steve Spurrier." Marks hoped to at least keep Spurrier in the state.
Even without the sign this time, though, Marks was more successful in achieving his desired result. He hopes his site played at least some role in that. “Florida fans really used this Web site as a center of gravity,” he says. “It really helped give fans a voice.”
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Gee. . . $27 million or $21 million plus shoe money and other benefits that won't be made public.
Big ego players vs. kids.
Rookie coach vs. king of his domain.
An exhibition season, 82 games, and playoffs vs. 30something.
Hmm. Seems like he made the wrong decision in the first place - unless he really wanted the NBA challenge as it would be the best players in his profession. I guess he didn't want that challenge.
There's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek school of thought that leaving now for the Magic was a no-lose proposition. His reputation can get no hotter as a college coach than it is right now, off back-to-back titles, and will inevtiably cool somewhat now that those studs are all gone. On the flip side, the likes of Pitino and Spurrier have shown that flopping in the pros doesn't tarnish your rep at the college level. If Donovan wanted to jump back to college in a few years, the schools would be lining up no matter how poorly he did in the NBA, because he would still be viewed as a college hoops savior. In the meantime, he would have $27 million to console him with the Magic even if things weren't working out.
If he did well in the NBA, on the other hand, he would be one of the first to conquer both realms, and he could write his ticket at either level. -- Pete
2006 & 2007 Fla. Gators:
"Remember us with the great teams."
USF, UCLA, Duke, North Carolina:
"We are the great teams, you guys can sit back there with UNLV."
I think the flipflopping could harm his reputation during recruiting - even with the 2 national titles.
does anyone else see the resemblence between BillyD and Kenny Banya from Seinfeld
Donovan would simply be nuts to leave Florida. An SI column nailed it correctly. Everyone wants to take a tep up, with Destination programs - Indiana, UNC, Duke, UCLA, Kentucky, Georgetown et al a pretty good ultimate destination. Not only if Florida on that list, but Donovan put it on the list. It seems to me that the only potential moves up, for Donovan, woudl be Duke, Kentucky, and Indiana - each because there is not football team to steal the headlines - and alumni dollars. And even Kentucky would be a tough call, because that makes Pitino his arch rival. Yes, life in Florida will not be all that joyous, losing 7 players. But in terms of reaching demi-god status, he is best where he is. Why go to the pros, and try to coach a bunch of overpaid whiners with automatic weapons?
Let me hear from you
Beyond posting a comment, if you have a news tip or a link to a story or video clip that you think is interesting, please drop me a line. Or if you have a general question or comment, send that along too. You can email me here.
(One note on the blogger comments: The only rule is to keep it clean. No curse words, please. This is a family blog.)