This picture contains exactly zero head coaches.
When your coach spends time in the hospital to avoid talking to his bosses, then quits before he can get fired, you’re in a bad spot. Now that Billy Gillispie is out at Texas Tech, though, folks are justified in asking, “Who benefits?”
No school wants to be in a position where they’re looking to fire their coach. Even if you’ll be better off afterward, things have gotten bad enough now that “better” might not necessarily be “good.” And what does it do to a coach’s reputation to have such a dubious exit from his last two stops? Finally, and most importantly, the players are now in a spot where they lack any form of continuity within their program. True, the guy that they didn’t care for is gone, but now what? They play for a currently coach-less program.
In the midst of all of the hullabaloo over the last few weeks, culminating in last nights preemptive resignation, Dana O’Neil wondered who the “winners” of the ordeal are. Her answer?
Certainly not for Texas Tech, which is about to have a different coach for a third straight season and has to reconfigure its program a month shy of practice — with all of eight wins to build on from last season.
Not for Gillispie, whose reputation is in tatters after he burned coaching bridges in Lubbock and Lexington, Ky., in a mere three combined seasons.
And not even for the players, whose in-house insurrection against their coach sparked all of this. They are left with an interim head coach and the stigma of this entire sordid affair.
We can’t speak to the experience that Texas Tech has of getting only eight wins to build on, but the other two are very familiar to us. We know what a team is like after being under his tutelage. Just follow Perry Stevenson on Twitter and you’ll get a glimpse.
So of the three parties involved, the school, the players, and Billy G. himself, who can stand to gain the most from the whole ordeal? It’s not peaches and gravy right now, but surely someone can learn from the experience.
Maybe the players? After he was fired from UK, the players who remained the following years under Cal were given an opportunity to really step up. Patrick Patterson had the best year of his college career in ’09-10, and Josh Harrellson came out of nowhere the next season to blow everyone away. If they didn’t have the miserable BCG years to learn from and appreciate, would they have worked as hard? You can argue that while the players don’t benefit from his coaching while he’s there, in a strange way, they can appreciate it after he’s gone. So hopefully the Texas Tech players will have a similar experience with whoever comes in as his replacement.
And maybe UK benefits. While they could never justify hiring him after his tenure in Lexington, at least now they can more emphatically justify firing him.
But according to Ms. O’Neil, the party who stands to gain the most from Billy’s lack of great judgment over the last few months is none other than the coach himself.
Still — and not without a touch of irony — Gillispie is the one who can benefit the most from the mess he created.
If he does as Hocutt said in the university news release and focuses on his health, that’s ultimately what really matters. No 52-year-old man should be in and out of the hospital multiple times for high blood pressure, stress and anxiety. That’s a body screaming SOS.
That Gillispie is listening in the here and now is critical and laudable.
But if Gillispie can recalibrate both his life and his health — if he can actually partner some serious soul-searching introspection with his coaching acumen — maybe there will be a winner in all of this after all.
As a group who has seen this pattern before, we may be skeptical that he can actually “recalibrate” like Dana suggests. But after seeing him absolutely implode during the last months of his two most recent coaching jobs, hopefully he can. If not for the schools, or the players, then for himself.