Being a Vol fan, I naturally cheer against all things Florida. The animosity is good-natured — this is sports, people — but still, a win over Florida is always extra-special. And for years, I’ve joined Vol fans in calling Billy Donovan, the Florida men’s basketball coach, the wonderfully appropriate sobriquet of “Eddie Munster.” If you’ve seen pictures of both gentlemen, you’ll immediately see why.
After the events of this past weekend, I have sworn that off. When it comes to Billy Donovan, it’s ixnay on the unstermay stuff. In fact, I have a new respect for Mr. Donovan. Make the jump to see why.
UT and Florida played on Sunday. The night before — less than 24 hours before the big game — Billy Donovan left his team at the hotel and joined Coach Bruce Pearl at a fund-raiser for cancer research. It was part of the OUTLIVE program, a UT initiative that rose from Chris Lofton’s bout with testicular cancer.
According to a Mike Strange story at the News-Sentinel site, Donovan posed for pictures with Pearl, then with attendees at the banquet. The event raised $60,000 to fund cancer-screening tests, and having both Pearl and Donovan present surely helped the turnout.
Donovan noted that he came because of his respect for Pearl, and because of the cause. Check this quote:
“We’re all blessed in so many ways,” Donovan said. “To me it really
doesn’t make a difference if you’re a Gator, a Volunteer, a Bulldog or
whatever it may be.
“In some form or fashion, all of us have been affected by cancer and
this is a great way we can all come together and keep the fight.”
That’s classy. That’s having your priorities straight. And the fact that Pearl invited him, and Donovan accepted, just raises my respect for both men.
So, Coach Donovan, this Vol fan salutes you. No more references to long-gone TV kids; from now on it’s Coach Donovan. Or perhaps, just Billy Donovan, the classy coach of the Gators.
We still want to beat your team, every time. But win or lose, you’ve earned our respect, and our gratitude. Thanks, Coach.