BUFFALO -- It seemed like a pipe dream, and at the end of the day Florida coach Billy Donovan almost surely will opt to keep the idyllic lifestyle and exceptional job he has in Gainesville.
But at least the former Providence star from Long Island has listened to the possibility of becoming the next St. John's coach.
Sources told The Post that Donovan talked to a St. John's supporter late Friday and was intrigued by what he heard. Whether it's enough to lure Billy the Kid away from his $3.5 million job at Florida, where he's won two national titles, remains to be seen.
"I am very happy here, and we have a very good team coming back next season," Donovan told the Post in a text message. "St. John's has a great tradition, and I have great respect for that program."
Before St. John's fans start planning their first NCAA tournament party appearance since 2002, consider this: Donovan was breaking down film of his team's first-round NCAA tournament loss to BYU and working on his recruiting plan at his Florida vacation home when he took the call.
St. John's athletic director Chris Monasch said Monday when the university fired Norm Roberts that he would not contact any potential candidate if the candidate's team was still involved in postseason play.
Because the contact with Donovan was not initiated by an employee of St. John's, Monasch has contacted Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley to receive permission to contact Donovan directly.
If Donovan elects to remain at Florida, where he has established a basketball tradition at a football school, St. John's likely will turn its attention to Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt, Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg and Hofstra's Tom Pecora.
Hewitt has his Ramblin' Wreck in the NCAA tournament. Greenberg has the Hokies in the NIT. Tech athletic director Jim Weaver told The Post he had not been contacted by St. John's.
As reported exclusively in The Post, St. John's has been working to put together a multi-year deal that would pay about $1.6 million annually. However, a source with knowledge of the finances cautioned that those numbers are not etched in stone.
For a coach of Donovan's status, the numbers could go higher. Because the money mostly will come from the private sector, it will not interfere with university's mission of developing a campus for a national student body.