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Can Billy Gillispie’s Tenure Be Over?

After losing to Notre Dame in the Quarterfinals of the NIT last night, rumors are beginning to swirl about Billy Gillispie being let go by the Kentucky Wildcats. Really? Already?

These are the same Wildcats who ran Tubby Smith out of town, despite Tubby bringing them a National Championship in 1998. On top of winning a National Championship, Tubby’s Kentucky resume also included 5 SEC regular season titles, and 5 SEC Tournament titles. He went to the Sweet 16 six times, and the Elite 8 four times. With all that success, Tubby still had the Kentucky community and Kentucky boosters calling for his dismissal. People close to the program felt that Tubby wasn’t recruiting the type of star power high school kids Rick Pitino was able to lure. They insisted Tubby had a ceiling as a head coach because of his inability to recruit 5 star athletes and McDonald’s All-Americans. Two seasons ago, amidst all the pressure put on Tubby, and boosters calling for his job, Tubby Smith decided to step down. Tubby is now the head coach at the University of Minnesota and in just his second season, has already managed to earn the Gophers both a Top 25 recruiting class, and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Ironically, Kentucky failed to reach the NCAA Tournament this season and have apparently already begun the calls for Tubby’s replacement, Billy Gillispie to be fired.

Billy Gillispie has been the polar opposite of Tubby Smith throughout his short tenure in Kentucky. Although his success on the court hasn’t been superb, he has been able to recruit and sign the type of players the Kentucky faithful was clamoring for while Smith was in town. In Billy’s first summer as head coach, he was able to lure 5-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American Patrick Patterson to Kentucky, as well as a 4-star recruit from the famous Oak Hill Academy, Alex Legion (who’s since transferred to Illinois). In his second summer, Gillispie was able to snag two players on scout.com’s top 40 prospect list, DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller. 2009 could very well be Billy’s best recruiting class yet. He was able to sign Center Daniel Orton, who chose Kentucky over Kansas, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. Orton will be a McDonald’s All-American and is a 5-star recruit on scout.com’s top 15. Gillispie also picked up local 4-star recruit Jon Hood and convinced him to stay in State and join the new look Wildcats.

How can you fire a coach who has filled the cupboard with so many superstars? The talent is in place for Kentucky to reclaim their rightful spot on top of college basketball, but the patience throughout the State is abysmal. Coach Gillispie has done everything Kentucky brought him in to do. He has sold the top recruits in the land on Kentucky as an institution. He hasn’t gotten them to perform on the court yet, but can Kentucky really fire Coach Gillispie without giving him a fair chance to coach em up?

It’s not as if Gillispie is only a recruiter and can’t coach. He turned UTEP around in just one season, taking them from 6-24 to 24-8. He than helped put Texas A&M on the National map, and won Big Twelve Coach of the Year twice. He turned Acie Law III into a collegiate superstar, and took A&M to it’s first NCAA Tournament since 1987. This guy can coach !!!!

This year was a tough year for the Wildcats, no question. But, Patrick Patterson was injured for a god portion of the year, and they were relying on underclassman to win in a very difficult SEC Conference. The one bright spot this season was that Jodie Meeks became Kentucky’s only first team All-American since 1989. With Meeks, Patterson, and Liggins returning, along with Orton coming to town, I expect Billy to win, and win big next year. NOW ALL HE NEEDS IS THE CHANCE !!!

And if he isn’t given the chance, say goodbye to Orton and Meeks, cause they are as good as gone. And good luck finding another high profile coach after running Tubby Smith out of town, and giving Gillispie only two years to turn it around. This is a very important decision for the University of Kentucky, and I expect them to make the right one. Gillispie should be back next season, and Kentucky basketball will be back on top to stay. If Kentucky decides to fire Coach Gillispie, it could be a long 5 years for those same boosters and fans who are running short on patience.

Nolan Shulman
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

Posted in NCAA Basketball 4 days, 19 hours ago at 5:47 AM.

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