Florida proves SEC#039;s dominance once again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2007

The SEC minor league, or Big 10, had a good showing Monday night but it wasn't enough as the Florida Gators, once again, cemented themselves as the premier collegiate sports program in the nation.

In a rematch from December, and from the BCS football championship, the Gators took control of the Ohio State Buckeyes early and never looked back.

While Buckeye freshman phenom Greg Oden's face was plastered on the front page of every sports section across the nation, it was the little-respected Florida Gators who stole the show, thus sealing back-to-back championships for the first since Duke did it in 1991-92.

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Several Gator players got into foul trouble early, including sure-to-be lottery pick Joakim Noah, but it didn't matter as the Buckeyes' strategy backfired with three Gators scoring in double digits.

The Gators road to the championship, both in football and basketball, was not an easy one, but it has been a legendary one.

The road to SEC supremacy actually started in March of last year when the Gators took their first NCAA basketball championship in school history.

The Gators followed that feat in early December when they took down the Arkansas Razorbacks in the SEC football championship.

Florida followed that up with a victory in the BCS Championship game over the Buckeyes.

Over the last month, the Gators once again beat the Razorbacks in the SEC Championship, this time in basketball, before taking down the Buckeyes in Monday night's championship.

So one has to ask: Why would Florida head coach Billy Donovan even think about leaving the most successful collegiate program in the nation to go to another SEC school in Kentucky?

Your guess is as good as mine.

With the recent salary explosion in college athletics (thanks to Nick Saban), Donovan stands to make a fortune following Monday night's win whether he stays or goes.

Kentucky, which is one of the richest schools in basketball history and basketball money, is sure to offer Donovan a huge sum of money, but will it be enough to woo him away from Gainesville?

In my opinion, Donovan would be an utter fool to leave Florida for Kentucky, and not just for weather reasons.

At Kentucky, the pressure to win the NCAA Championship every year is as intense as it is anywhere in the country.

At Kentucky, you are expected to win the SEC Championship, make the Final Four and compete for the NCAA Championship, and even that isn't always enough.

Just ask Tubby Smith.

Also at Kentucky, any coach who takes the reigns of the Wildcats will always live in the shadow of Adolph Rupp.

At Florida, the pressure to win at the highest level has only been created by Donovan.

Donovan created this monster and now he must decide if it lives or dies.

Unfortunately for the rest of the SEC, whether it is in Lexington or Gainesville, Donovan will still be the monster to beat.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor and can be reached by phone at 334-382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 334-382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com