Texas Tech has Their Man and Gillispie has his University
The minute word started to spread that Gillispie would be the head coach, it seems that just about everything was in place. The official site press release seemed like it was ready to go and it makes me think this has been about crossing t's and dotting i's more than anything else. Here's the official release from Texas Tech and new athletic director Kirby Hocutt talks about Gillispie:
"I am very excited to welcome Billy Clyde Gillispie to Texas Tech," said director of athletics Kirby Hocutt. "Over the past two weeks I have had the opportunity to spend significant time with Billy and I am absolutely confident that he will lead our basketball program back to the national spotlight while positively representing our university. There are exciting years ahead for Red Raider basketball."
And Gillispie will not be available to comment or be in Lubbock for a press conference because he's on the road recruiting. We'll get to that more later, but I think Gillispie has been recruiting for some time now. In any event, here's your new head coach:
"It is a great honor to be selected as the basketball coach at Texas Tech University," remarked Gillispie. "I am very appreciative of athletics director Kirby Hocutt, President Bailey (Guy) and Chancellor Hance (Kent) for allowing me the opportunity to lead this program. Texas Tech is a great school that is located in a great community and is part of one of the toughest conferences in the country. I can't wait to get started."
There's so many layers to this story that it makes it tough to figure out where to start. There's so much history, accomplishments, and some controversy with Texas Tech's new head coach, Billy Clyde Gillispie that it makes it a bit tough to figure out. It was strange to think that through it all, Gillispie was the guy and for most, if not all of the coaching search for Texas Tech, Gillispie was the only candidate. So what do I think? I think it was the right hire and I don't think I would have been incredibly excited with any other head coach hired at Texas Tech. I'll be honest, this has be back being excited about Texas Tech basketball because I'm pretty confident what Gillispie can bring to the table.
There's so much here to consider. I know using Wikipedia as a source isn't the most reliable, but it's interesting to see where Gillispie started. He started like almost any coach, from the bottom, but where Gillispie differs from most coaches is that he rose to the top of the coaching profession before he could blink. It's been some time since I looked at Gillispie's coaching pedigree, but I knew he started at the high school level, but had completely forgotten the Henry Miller experiment at Baylor and that Gillispie was at Baylor for 3 years before becoming Bill Self's right hand man.
Sometimes you wonder why people are successful and Bill Self is one of those guys who recognizes talent, whether it be on the court on on his coaching staff and Self recognized what Gillispie was doing immediately, and perhaps credit should go to Gillispie as well as he may have recognized that he needed to jump ship from Baylor to the University of Tulsa. At the time, Bill Self was building Tulsa into a conference power and regularly appeared in the NCAA Tournament. Gillispie followed Self to Illinois and by this time, it was just a matter of time before Gillispie was hired as a head coach.
Gillispie's turnaround at both UTEP and Texas A&M are legendary. They are immediate and they helped Gillispie become the coaching candidate at Kentucky. From the time that Gillispie became a head coach to the time he was a head coach at Kentucky, we're talking about 5 very short years.
That is one hell of a shooting start and perhaps this is where things went south. Maybe Gillispie moved too fast, kept looking for that penny more and that's where things got fuzzy. Gillispie has a history of drinking and driving, but his last alcohol related issue occurred after he was fired from Kentucky. His prior indiscretions occurred while at Tulsa and at UTEP. Those now somewhat seem like a lifetime ago.
And I haven't even had the time to get into Gillispie's abrasive coaching methodology and lawsuit against Kentucky. Like I said, there's a lot of levels here.
So much more after the jump.
It Seems We've Known This Was Going to Happen Since Pat Knight Was Fired
One of the last things we heard from former head coach Pat Knight, was Pat endorsing Gillispie:
"I think Billy would be great," Knight said. "Billy and I are friends. Bill can recruit Texas. He's got a personality, as everyone knows. Plus, you know he's not going to hammer you when he gets the job. That's what I hate, when guys take over the job and hammer the ex-coach. Hopefully, it's a guy I know who is one of my buddies. No, I think he would be a great choice."
By most accounts, everyone things, and I think you can now put Gillispie into this group, that Gillispie is the perfect fit for Texas Tech and Texas Tech is the perfect fit for Gillispie. In between being fired from Kentucky, Gillispie's mother passed away, and perhaps this showed him a bit that he's got to slow it down a bit. Enjoying the ride can be difficult to do when you've fast-tracked your life like Gillispie has.
So What's Next
We're piecing things together. Some of you may already know, but Tech has already signed it's 2011 recruiting class. These guys were supposed to show up in the fall and now there may be some question. As you may also know, scholarships are one year renewable contracts and right now, there are 5 seniors that are graduating, which means that there are 5 scholarships available (John Roberson, David Tairu, Mike Singletary, D'walyn Roberts and Brad Reese). As you can tell, there are 5 players committed:
SG Toddrick Gotcher 6-3/185
SF Terran Petteway 6-5/200
PF Hershey Robinson 6-7/200
PF Jordan Tolbert 6-8/225; and
PG Kevin Wagner 5-8/145
Here's an update from RRS.com's Chris Level on those available spots:
Signee Hershey Robinson still needs to qualify and current pg Javarez Willis isn't expected back (academics). We'll see how it plays out.
There's also the potential that Gillispie could let go Theron Jenkins as he redshirted all of this past year and it wouldn't surprise me to maybe ask Paul Cooper not to come back. I'll be honest, I'm a little bit torn on this as part of me believes that a lot of these guys that get these opportunities to go to college may be the only opportunity to do something with their life. If a scholarship is pulled, there's a part of me that worries about what happens with those kids. I know both sides of the argument. Scholarships are essentially one year contracts and if the player doesn't perform, then it doesn't get renewed. Still, I feel bad for a player that doesn't get his scholarship renewed.
So of the 5 that are committed for 2011, I really like Gotcher and Petteway. Apparently Gillispie has already talked to Gotcher and Tolbert:
Tolbert said Gillispie already has some ideas on how to improve his game based on what he's seen. Tolbert is a 6-8, 225-pound forward.
Just got off the phone with Coach Gillispie! Had a good talk! Starting the relationship right now!
If Robinson is just cut loose and Jaravez Willis isn't going to make it because of grades, Jenkins and Cooper are let go, then AAS's Kirk Bohls' statement and Level make more sense:
Gillispie has indicated he's got players ready to bring with him to #TexasTech. He has one scholarship to give but that could change.
How long before Texas Tech basketball becomes relevant? A Billy Clyde friend told me BCG has six players lined up already.
And if you've had any doubt as to why Gillispie doesn't have the time to appear at a press conference, it's because he's on the road, getting things done, per Sports By Brooks:
Billy Gillispie already recruiting. Eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas this weekend. Expect him to bring a haul to TTU.