Commentary

Florida, Texas basketball benefit from football

Updated: December 30, 2009, 4:16 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When you think about the University of Texas and the University of Florida, often the first thing that comes to mind is success on the gridiron.

The Longhorns are playing for the national championship against Alabama. Florida has won a couple of titles with Tim Tebow running the show.

You also think about the great job done by Mack Brown and Urban Meyer. They earn their mega-dollars with the pressure they face and I have no problem with the money they are paid.

Yes, football is great at those institutions, but what about hoops? Billy Donovan won a pair of national championships with Florida and Texas coach Rick Barnes has led his team to a Final Four appearance. It's easy to see that basketball is important at those two schools.

Yet Billy Donovan and Rick Barnes have more in common than just success. They have both gone out and embraced football in a positive way. They sell their basketball programs by including football as an asset. Both Donovan and Barnes enjoy great situations. In the world of recruiting, a football weekend can draw a player into an amazing atmosphere. I have heard some coaches over the years complain that they are having a tough time because football dominates the athletic program. They argue that the dollars and facilities primarily go to the football program.

Donovan and Barnes are examples of coaches that take football success in a positive way. There is nothing like going to a football game on a Saturday night. The campus has a buzz-- an air of excitement.

In Austin and Gainesville, seeing students show enthusiasm and jump with joy can be enticing to a hoops recruit. There is so much positive energy!

Donovan and Barnes have built elite programs in their sport, and at least some of that can be attributed to the way they use the success of their respective football programs.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.