ATHENS - Before running the following quotes, I will issue the requisite disclaimers:
Of course Billy Donovan would have nice things to say about Mark Fox, out of common courtesy in the coaching profession. And of course he would say glowing things two days before Florida comes to play Georgia. It would probably only be news if Donovan didn't think Fox was a great coach.
But I'll pass along what Donovan said about Fox because, from what I've heard, it's also what he says in private. And because Donovan's word has some weight with Greg McGarity, who was at Florida when Donovan was hired and built the Gators into a national power.
"The first thing I would say is I've got a high regard for Mark, first and foremost as a person. He is a great guy. He does things the right way, I think he's a hell of a basketball coach," Donovan said on Monday's SEC coaches teleconference. "I think he is really sound on both ends of the floor. They execute very well, they play hard, they defend. He all the way around is a terrific coach. And I think he really does things the right way.
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"In my opinion, right now looking at him as a coach, looking at Georgia's program, they've got incredible leadership and direction with Mark there. He has been successful his whole entire life. There's always going to be peaks and valleys, ups and downs. They're playing some new faces, there's some parts to their team that are young. But overall Mark Fox is a terrific coach, a terrific person, and regardless of their struggles, I'm not in their program to know all the ins and outs as much as Mark does - but watching them on film, competing against their teams, they're as well-coached and as well-prepared as any team we'll play against."
Fox has a 57-56 overall record in three-plus years at Georgia. He took over a team that went 12-20 the previous year, and two years later got Georgia an at-large NCAA tournament berth for the first time in nine years. However, two years later the program is in danger of being back to the vicinity of 12-20.
Donovan is 5-2 against Fox at Georgia, with Fox getting wins last year and in 2010.
Fox's career record is 180-99, including four NCAA tournament trips, including three in five years at Nevada.