Gillispie Good Fit For Kentucky

Billy Gillispie makes the move from Texas A&M to Kentucky

April 6, 2007

By Brian Curtis

Senior Editor, CSTV


In 2001, I embarked on a journey behind the scenes in college basketball, the crux of which would become my first book, The Men of March: A Season Inside the Lives of College Basketball Coaches.  I'm not here to sell more copies, but rather tell you about the first time I met Billy Gillispie.  At the time, Billy was working as Bill Self's assistant at the University of Illinois, along with now St. John's head coach Norm Roberts and Illinois man Wayne McClain. 


As Illinois was my first stop in mid-October for Midnight Madness, Illinois basketball was at a fevered pitch--and so was Billy.  He never stopped.  I mean, never.  He was either coaching on the practice court, giving tips to a player, working the phones with recruits or watching film.  When all the other coaches left the office, Billy stayed behind.  He would be in there well after midnight.  (Of course, it helped that he was single.) 


As the seasons progressed, it was clear Billy was headed to bigger things.  There were a handful of jobs that tempted him but ultimately, he moved on to UTEP, just as Self and Roberts moved on to Kansas.  At UTEP, Billy orchestrated an amazing turnaround and two years later--BOOM--he lands at Texas A&M.  We know what he did there.


So this afternoon he becomes the University of Kentucky's new head coach.  He takes on the second-biggest job in college sports, behind Notre Dame football.  The Lexington faithful will love Billy.  He gets it.  He is like them.  He even talks like them.  He will recruit his you-know-what off.  (It should be noted that he went after and took in a large number of junior college players and transfers at his last two stops which won't be as easy in Lexington.)


Do I think Billy Gillispie is a good fit for Kentucky?  Yes.


Do I think he can win a national championship in Lexington?  Yes.


Is he ready for what it means to be Kentucky's basketball coach?  Maybe.


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