Since the Wolfpack’s coaching search is so full of mumbled-rumors right now that it would be irresponsible to share anything, we thought we’d take the lead from our bretheren at Pack Pride and take a tangential diversion. We obviously have to give Pack Pride some credit for charting our diversionary course….as it may take them a while to get into the swing of some things, but I guess that they ultimately get where they need to be – namely the highlighting of a name that you need to know.
If you have been paying any attention to James Henderson’s (PP Editor) message board posts the last couple of weeks you will recognize that he has a very high opinion of Texas A&M Coach, Billy Gillispie. Today, PP followed up with a feature profile on Gillispie titled, “The Perfect Candidate”.
Good for James for having such a high opinion of the G-Man. But, while I issue a “good job” to PP for their recognition of Gillispie, I have to simultaneously ask…where have you guys been? I hate it when fellow Wolfpackers arrive late to our parties!!
If you’ve been a frequent reader of this blog for any length of time then you will recognize that I’ve been highlighting Gillispie since the blog’s inception. (We like to be on the front end of interesting ideas and conversations as opposed to holding a reactive posture).
As you will see in some of my previous entries focusing on Gillispie listed below, one of his most attractive qualities is his ability to “mythbust”. I define mythbusting as achieving certain levels of success and under certain sets of circumstances that leave the whining excuse makers of the world scratching their collective heads. Kind of like Bruce Pearl during this season…because, surely no coach could be expected to IMMEDIATELY succeed at a school with ZERO history and few basketball resources? Surely it takes a decade (or longer) to build winners (as well as build a good long list of reasons why a coach can’t be asked to succeed). But I digress.
For more on Gillispie and his mythbusting abilities, I encourage you to go back and see a few of our old entries. We’re pretty proud that we were able to identify him a couple of years ahead of the curve; if only we could get a larger number of folks in WolfpackNation to be a little more proactive.
January 13, 2005 - Three Good Billy Gillispie Newspaper articles in mid-Jan 2005
March 9, 2005 - How’d he do that? (Gillispire wins Big 12 Coach of the Year. Additional article from SI included in the comments section.
February 2, 2006 – Two of my favorite coaches do battle
March 1, 2006 – Two of my favorite coaches split (nice commentary from someone familiar with A&M in the comments section)
One that we didn’t get up in time was, “Gillispie’s legend right on track” from the San Antonio Express News on March 2oth.
I obviously think the world of Gillispie’s abilities and think that he represents the complete package – pedigree & college basketball network under Bill Self, recruiting capabilities as evidenced by his personality and recruiting rankings, and ability to win quickly basd on his record of immediate positive impacts in significant turn-around situations at less-than-top-tier basketball programs.
IMHO, Gillispie would be a very attractive hire for NC State. I would definitely put him a spot above Miami’s Frank Haith, who seems to have settled into the role of ‘fallback option’ (unless Oklahoma hires him first). In fact, Gillispie would be my #1 candidate after the “Tier A” of Barnes/Calipari/Wright on a hypothetical personal target list. (Why the hell else would I have talked about the guy for the last 3 years on the internet!)
My only concern/point of curiosity regarding Gillispie relates to the significant “regionalistic” nature of his resume and his success.
For a moment, consider college coaches as consumer brands of a product that you may buy.
* (a) Some college coaches are obviously national brands – Bobby Knight, Coach K, Roy Williams, Tubby Smith, Jim Calhoun, Billy Donovan, Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo, Rick Barnes, John Calipari, etc.
* (b) Some college coaches aren’t really branded at all and don’t necessarily have a ‘niche’ on which to build – Mike Brey, Jamie Dixon, Oliver Purnell, Steve Alford, Mark Gottfried, John Brady, Norm Roberts, Kevin Stallings.
* (c) Some college coaches haven’t yet completed building their “national brand”, but are leveraging some particular niche to help them build their prominence – John Thompson Jr, John Belien, Tim Floyd, Mike Anderson.
Billy Gillispie is in the “(c)” category; his niche is Texas as almost everything related to Gillispie seems to originate from the Lone Star State —
He was born in Abilene, grew up 65 miles northwest of Fort Worth in Graford, was a two-sport athlete in basketball and baseball at Ranger (Texas) Junior College, then attended Sam Houston State for one year before transferring to Texas State. He got his coaching start at his alma mater before Serving as head coach at three different high schools in Texas. Additionally, A&M’s biography continues, “Gillispieâ€™s Texas ties run deep as he began his coaching career in the stateâ€™s high school and junior college ranks before starting his Division I career at Baylor in the mid-1990s. He went on to successful assistant coaching stints at Tulsa and Illinois before becoming UTEPâ€™s head coach in 2002.”
In light of Gillispie’s background, a lot of people will ask if his over-reliance on his Texas connections have precluded him from making enough contacts througout the country? He’s never had a job remotely near the Atlantic Coast Conference. It is a very fair question.
My personal opinion is that Gillispie’s ‘regionalism’ is n’t that big of a deal BECAUSE of his proven ability to immediately impact programs which he takes over. ESPN analyst and former UCLA coach, Steve Lavin dubbed Gillispie a “miracle worker” after his work with A&M and Texas-El Paso – Gillispie is the only coach to lead the nation in improvement in won-loss records in two successive seasons.
It didn’t matter from what state those boys at UTEP and A&M were from…it only mattered that they were coached by Billy Gillispie.
Is Billy Gillispie a candidate for the NC State job? I honestly have no idea. But, if he isn’t, then perhaps he should be.