Yesterday saw an end to the Billy Gillispie fiasco with the Texas Tech Red Raider program. After a few weeks of scandalous coverage, a hospitalization, and rumors surrounding Gillispie, he finally handed his resignation in to Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt. But this isn’t the end of the Gillispie story. Unfortunately, far from it.
You can say whatever you want about Gillispie, but the guy, up until recently, had a reputation for being a very good coach. He was a winner with UTEP and Texas A&M before taking his talents to the Kentucky Wildcats program. That is where it all started to go down hill. Kentucky’s standards for having a successful hoops season is higher than anyone else’s in the country. Not only do they want National Titles, they want it done in a quick and orderly fashion.
Oddly enough, he wasn’t fired for his sub-par performance in Kentucky, he was actually fired for his incompatibility with the school. Gillispie still refused to sign his original contract from two years prior when he landed the Wildcats job. Red flags weren’t raised nationally at the time. Most talking heads figured it was a polite way for the Kentucky administration to say a record of 40-27 just isn’t good enough for the program.
Gillispie filed a lawsuit against Kentucky, claiming they breached their contract and owed him a cool 6 million United State’s dollars. The two groups settled and Gillispie walked away with almost three million dollars in change. Wild Bill was quick to land another job, back in his old stomping grounds of Texas.
Gillispie replaced Pat Knight as the new coach for the Texas Tech program in 2011. After a horrible 8-23 season, everything started to fall apart for Gillispie and his reputation.
We all know what has transpired. Gillispie is accused of exceeding practice hours, making injured players practice, making false promises to coaches, and being a general big time jerk. Following his encounter with the media starting to poke holes into his reputation, Gillispie’s blood-pressure and stress rose to a dangerously high level, high enough that he had to be hospitalized.
That’s Wild Billy Gillispie’s past, the future is the question. Whatever opinions people have of Gillispie as a person, he still generated some support from national college hoops analysts. ESPN college hoops power analysts Dick Vitale and Dana O’Neil both wished him a speedy recovery through Twitter. Gillispie has gotten what he wanted out of his hospitalization, sympathy.
All of the events that have transpired lead to an obvious question that will surely be brought up when Gillispie “gets healthy”. Will he land another job at another top-tier program? The short answer is “No”. There is no way a school that has some history or money, will need to lower itself to the levels of hiring Gillispie. But don’t worry about Wild Bill, he still has plenty of options.
There, when Gillispie gets his health in order, will be plenty of “lesser” programs looking to grab his services at a discounted price. If Gillispie wants back in the college ranks, he will have to do it on the cheap. He won’t even have to go to really small conferences like the NEC or CAA either. Mid-Majors and bad programs in Power Conferences will surely be giving him a call. At a discounted price, a school looking to make a splash will take a risk on him.
There’s also the chance he comes back as an assistant coach. While it might seem like a huge demotion, which it is, it could be an opportunity for Gillispie to rebuild his image. A couple of years behind one of his old mentors behaving himself, and a few good deeds later, people might start to forgive Gillispie.
Of course there is the small chance he goes to the NBA. However, it wouldn’t be as a head coach. It has been a long time since Gillispie has actually had a successful collegiate season. An NBA owner isn’t going to hand over a head coaching job to a guy who just went 8-23 at his last stop. But there’s no reason to think a team might offer him a consulting position. In my opinion, the lack of power and control would be hard for Gillispie to deal with but if he really wants to rehabilitate his image, and himself, this would be a good way to start the humbling process.
Like many people who get into their professions, I’m sure Gillispie started coaching basketball because he loved the sport. I doubt that when he started his coaching career he dreamed of being a tyrant jerk. Somewhere along the way Gillispie lost control and became a person not easy to root for. Over the next few months or years, Gillispie is going to have to do a lot of damage control dealing with all the allegations that continue to come out against him. It’s how he handles the negative spotlight that will determine when or if he gets another job.
America loves itself some second chances. Although, usually not after it was at the expense of student-athletes and making a mockery out of being a professional in every way. But if I was a gambling man, I’d bet that right now there is an Athletic Director for a small program who has at least, mulled over the idea of hiring him after this season.
Gillispie has a long way to go and this story isn’t even close to being finished. All we know for now is that he’s no longer a part of the Red Raider program and he’s already generated sympathy from power media members. In a matter of 1 hospitalization and 1 resignation, Gillispie has already started his journey back to getting another coaching gig.
Only in sports can you treat people the way Gillispie did and STILL have a good chance of landing the same job for another employer.