Florida coach Billy Donovan had mixed feelings on the day after leading Florida to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in 15 seasons as coach.
Donovan learned earlier in the day that close friend and former Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey was fired at Arkansas.
“John’s situation, I feel bad for,” Donovan said. “It’s an unfortunate situation because I’m not really sure, I mean (former Arkansas and current USF coach) Stan Heath, I think took two teams to the NCAA Tournament. And they make a change.
“Then John goes in there and goes to the NCAA Tournament with all of Stan’s players and does a good job coaching them. He’s in his third year with his entire team returning with a top 5 recruiting class, that doesn’t make sense to me.”
Donovan questioned the timing of Pelphrey’s firing, saying he felt Pelphrey really had three years instead of four years because he inherited most of Heath’s players. Pelphrey worked under Donovan as an assistant at both Marshall and Florida from 1994-2002 before taking his first head coaching job at South Alabama. Pelphrey led USA to the NCAA Tournament in 2006, where they lost to eventual national championship Florida in Jacksonville.
“I think at Arkansas they’re going to have to make a decision,” Donovan said. “Are they going to let somebody? ‑‑ because every time you make that kind of decision, first of all you don’t know if any of the recruits are going to stay. You don’t know if any of the older players are going to stay. So if you have mass exodus there, they’re starting off worse than when John took over.
“The unfortunate part is they’re going to get a good coach, and it’s a good program, and it’s a good situation. But at some point they’re going to have to let whoever is in there be able to do the job.”