Well now that Pat Knight has been fired by Texas Tech – as we speculated he would be – the question in Lubbock becomes, who is next for the Red Raiders basketball program? The name that everyone seems to be mentioning first is former Kentucky, Texas A&M and UTEP head coach Billy Gillispie.
Other than his average two seasons at Kentucky where he went 40-27 (20-12 in the SEC) Gillispie has been wildly successful as a head coach. He guided UTEP to a 24-8 record and a WAC championship in just his second season at the school after going 6-24 in his first year. Which was also his first year as a head coach at the college level.
After that successful second season he was hired by Texas A&M and immediately had success with the Aggies. In three seasons he racked up a 70-26 record (31-17 in the Big 12), including a 27-win season in 2006-07, in which his squad reached the Sweet Sixteen. He was hired by Kentucky following the season. While at Texas A&M Gillispie was the Big 12 Coach of the Year twice (2005 and 2007).
From every source we’ve talked to it seems like Texas Tech and Gillispie would be a perfect marriage. A huge part of what went wrong for the coach in Kentucky was the fact that he wasn’t accustomed to, nor built for being in the spotlight. He just wanted to be a basketball coach, not a local celebrity. He would probably be able to live the life he wants in Lubbock.
Besides that, Gillispie was born in Abilene and grew up in Graford, Texas a very small town west of Fort Worth. He also attended Sam Houston State.
The question for Texas Tech is whether they believe the 51-year-old Gillispie is past his well publicized problems with alcohol. In 1999 and again 2003 he was arrested for driving drunk. In the 1999 case he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and the 2003 charge was dropped due to a lack of evidence. But on August 27, 2009 Gillispie was once again caught and charged with a DUI, to which he pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement. In September 2009 he checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation program.
If the brass at Texas Tech can be convinced that is all behind him now, we wouldn’t be surprised if Gillispie is named the head coach as soon as the Red Raiders’ season ends.