some thoughts on kentucky basketball, part 3: uk & billy gillispie

The first post in this series is here.

Alright, now to the part that gets a little personal: UK and Billy Gillispie.

As a Texas Aggie, I am very sad to lose Gillispie. I’m upset that he’s gone. But not because I’m mad at him. I’m not. I’m not getting into the arguments about coaches honoring contracts because that’s not how college basketball actually works. It’s not a perfect system, but it is a systemic problem, not merely an issue of personal character on the part of the coach.

I’m not mad about him leaving because he’s taking one of the handful of jobs you’d be crazy not to take without VERY good reason (and UF’s Billy Donovan has VERY good reason). If he had gone to Arkansas, that would not have made sense given what TAMU can do support-wise and salary-wise. TAMU represented a better position for him to excel in than Arkansas did. But Kentucky is Kentucky. One of the premier storied teams in the history of the game.

As a lover of the game, I would state my belief that having UK as an annual threat to go to the Final Four is good for college basketball. There’s just something right about it. It restores balance to The Force and all that stuff. A slipping/bad UK is bad for college basketball.

If this opportunity had not arisen, I believe Billy would be in College Station, possibly creating his “Billy Donovan” situation that would be hard to leave several years down the road. Right now, things are much, much better than they were in a long time. We should have done (and it sounds like we did) everything we could do to keep him. But when an opportunity like UK come knocking, anyone with half a brain knows that you’re going to say yes if you have an ounce of ambition and self-confidence, which Gillispie has! That’s just being realistic about where we (the Aggies) are in the pecking order. We are much better now, and are a much better coaching position than we were 3 years ago too. For that I am thankful, and I wish Billy Gillispie all the best. I hope he succeeds greatly at UK for himself, his players, the University of Kentucky, and all of college basketball.

UK is getting a great coach and a great recruiter and I think he’ll be a great fit. Give him two seasons to have them as a number 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA tourney. He will win a national title at Kentucky.

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