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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Hanover, VA

    Default USA Today Article

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida followers are still recovering from Billy Donovan's stunning, late decision to become the new Magic coach. But just imagine what life is like right now if you're a Virginia Commonwealth fan?
    The Rams finished 28-7 last season in Anthony Grant's first year. He just got a raise and a talented class of recruits, filled with Sunshine State prep stars, are headed to VCU in the fall.

    But now, the program could also take a hit because of into Donovan's depature from UF. Grant and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley were believed to be finalizing negotiations over the weekend. An announcement could come Monday, unless Grant decides to stay at his present job.

    There is no question Foley wants Grant. So do Gator followers.

    Lance Kearse, the cousin of former Gators' star football player Jevon Kearse, was recruited by Grant out of Fort Myers High School. He got a call from Grant over the weekend, telling him to hang loose and just wait and see how everything played out.

    FIND MORE STORIES IN: Florida | Donovan | Gator | Jeremy Foley | Virginia Commonwealth | Anthony Grant | Donnie Jones | Virginia Commonwealth University
    But Kearse didn't try to fool himself. He's talked to other Rams recruits and has drawn his own conclusion. Kearse, like many others at VCU, feels certain Grant will leave the program.

    "He has to go," said Kearse, who still hadn't gotten confirmation that Grant was leaving by Sunday evening. "Just look at what he did in one year (at VCU). He was with Coach Donovan for 10 years at Florida as an assistant. A coach like that, he belongs at a Florida or a Duke."

    Kearse didn't sound bitter about losing his head coach, only realistic.

    "He has to take the job," Kearse said. "If I was in his position, I'd take the job."

    VCU assistant coach Tony Pujol, like Grant a Miami native who was a vital help in recruiting, would likely take over at VCU and Kearse feels comfortable with that move. In fact, it would probably keep most of the incoming class satisfied enough to stay committed.

    Kearse held no grudges against the Gators. In fact, he had a prediction.

    "It'll be the same thing as what Donovan did," Kearse said. "He will be just as successful."

    Grant, however, did have some interesting conversations with some close friends over the weekend. He confessed he liked the idea of building his own program and he is happy at VCU. While it seemed like a slam dunk decision to most, Grant seemed actually be a little torn in his loyalty.

    The hiring isn't just a decision that's being watched eagerly in Florida and Virginia. It has a far-reaching impact that stretches all the way to ex-Gators.

    Brett Nelson was a star player at UF who held the school record for career three-point goals until Lee Humphrey broke the mark this past season. Nelson was on Grant's first VCU staff but left to become an assistant at Marshall a few weeks ago when Donnie Jones was hired as the new head coach.

    Like Grant, Jones was a long-time Donovan aide.

    Nelson's mother, Trudi, half-joked that she had no interest in the women's softball but watched the College World Series over the weekend. She sat restlessly in front of the TV in St. Albans, W.Va., and watched.

    "I was hoping to see some news come across the bottom of the screen on ESPN, to tell me something," she said.

    A mother of a former player close to 1,000 miles away watching a sport she has no interest in just to see if she can find out who the Gators' next head coach will be?

    It sort of said it all, about how the group that calls itself The Gator Nation was anxiously waiting for some news to finally ease a little bit of the sting of Donovan's departure.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Richmond, VA

    Default Re: USA Today Article

    This article and mglau's blog article are both very good, honest and insightful articles...

    Some conversations and events taking place could affect the outcome of what was thought to be certain and may make us all happy...

    Good work Mike....
    But Anthony Grant is a principled, religious, loyal man. This one is about far more than dollar signs. Grant means what he says and keeps promises. He recruited his first freshman class to VCU and sold them on his principles of building something big. He asked his players to believe in what he was doing and they trusted him and were rewarded. He meant every word of it, and understands the odd position his leaving VCU will appear.

    It will bother him, and is likely weighing on his mind right now. It is also the reason Grant's decision is not as easy as most people believe. Every external factor points to packing the family and moving them back to Florida. But inside Grant--that place we all go when considering something important, and that place we only discuss with our partner--it isn't that simple.

    If Anthony Grant stands up to a podium Sunday or Monday afternoon and says it was a gut-wrenching decision, he will be telling the truth. It won't be press conference theatre.

    I'm with everybody else and believe it is 90/10 Grant is going to Florida. But if he stays, it will not be as shocking as the national media will make it out to be. Not by a long shot. The door is open just a crack for VCU for no other reason than who Anthony Grant is as a man.
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