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Florida Gators' Billy Donovan defends former Arkansas coach John Pelphrey

Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan staunchly defended his friend and former UF assistant coach John Pelphrey on Monday after Pelphrey was fired this past weekend as head coach at Arkansas.

Donovan, who worked with Pelphrey from 1994-2002, said he felt bad for him, and said he was surprised he wasn't given at least one more year because of the stellar recruiting class he has coming in next season.

"You know, John's situation, I feel bad for,'' Donovan said. "It's an unfortunate situation because I'm not really sure, I mean (former 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 five recruiting class, that doesn't make sense to me.

"I think at Arkansas they're going to have to make a decision,'' Donovan added. 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. I think in John's case, I know it was four years, but it really was three years. That's to me somewhat remarkable that they wouldn't give him (time) with what he's got coming in, what he's got coming back to see, okay, maybe we're on the process of turning the corner a little bit. The guy's got 18 wins, improved from last year. I think he's done a good job with the hand he was dealt. But I understand that the athletic director and the president of the institution has to do what they feel is best. It's their right to do that. John's a good coach, and he will definitely be somewhere.''

Florida Gators' Billy Donovan defends former Arkansas coach John Pelphrey 03/14/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 9:37am]
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