Monday night, Billy Donovan's Florida Gators rolled the Stetson Hatters, 96-70, at the Amway Arena in Orlando. It was just another November win for Donovan & Co., one more totally expected tack on the 2011-12 season wall. But it was also something much more: It was the 400th win of Donovan's career.
That may not seem like a whole lot, not when you've got Coach K working on win No. 908 at Ohio State Tuesday night. But No. 400 should be kept in perspective. For one, Donovan has more wins than Michigan State coach Tom Izzo -- Izzo's career record is 387-163, Donovan's is 400-168. That's something most people probably wouldn't assume; Izzo feels like he should be approaching win No. 600 at this point. Maybe Izzo seems older, more wizened. Maybe people forget Donovan began as a Division I head coach a year (1994-95) before Izzo did (1995-96). After all, the duo was competing for a national title by 2000.
In any case, there's no getting around it: At age 45, Donovan is already among the leading lights in his profession, and he doesn't show any sign of slowing down. The Orlando Sentinel's Shannon J. Owens broached the Izzo-Donovan comparison Monday night, asking why Donovan's milestone was greeted with such minimal fanfare. And, of course, the comparison always comes back to new Ohio State (and suddenly Florida's least-favorite) coach, Urban Meyer:
The most telling attribute of a coach is not what he accomplishes in success, but what he accomplishes in adversity.
Like Meyer, Donovan had to rebuild his program after the talent pool evaporated.
Unlike Meyer, Donovan stuck around long enough to finish the job.
It took Donovan two seasons to bring Florida back to the NCAA Tournament, and he led the Gators to the Elite Eight this March. Currently, the Gators are ranked No. 10 in the country – above Izzo's Spartans.
Whichever comparison you prefer to draw, the point is, Donovan might be a little overlooked down in Gainesville. For all of the progress, for everything he's built for Florida's program, Florida is and always will be more interested in football. But I don't think anyone underestimates Donovan's abilities as a coach. If someone does, that someone just isn't paying very close attention.