If you do not recognize the picture of this^ man, then I can promise you that one day, you will. Just like Bill Self, this man’s mentor and former boss, I can tell you early in his career that he is going to be successful over the long haul.
Gillispie won the award in his FIRST YEAR at one of college basketball’s most traditionally horrendous programs, Texas A&M. A&M has struggled in basketball since the dawn of time, and former coach Melvin Watkins put together a string of seasons that ended in disaster last season as the Aggies did not win a single conference game en route to a 7-21 record and an RPI of #246. The Aggies have made a single NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 16 years. (And, it isn’t like they made a whole lot of appearances BEFORE that).
In Gillispie’s first season in College Station, the Aggies have compiled an 8-8 conference record and 19-8 overall record to create an RPI of #62 and land the Aggies squarely on the NCAA Bubble. For those of you keeping score at home, NC State’s current RPI is #86 in the country in our coach’s 9th season.
I could continue drawing parallels to the many differences between A&M and NC State’s history and resources to complement that obvious time horizons with which Gillispie is able to produce results when compared to the expectations of Lee Fowler and the performance of Herb Sendek. Can you imagine how the HSSers could find a way to rationalize how Texas A&M’s players who couldn’t win a conference game last year were really much more talented than you thought? I guess that would be consistent with how Bobby Knight and Rick Barnes BOTH achieved IMMEDIATE success at Big 12 schools that had spotty tradition before their arrivals.
Past Behavior & Performance indicate FUTURE Behavior & Performance
I’ve been following Billy Gillispie for a few years now, and it didn’t take long for him to become one of my favorites. Gillispie was the head coach at UTEP until he took the A&M job last year. At UTEP, he inherited a program with eight scholarship players and a serious morale problem. He went 6-24 in a disasterous first season and immediately turned the Miners into a 24-7 NCAA Tournament team in his second year.
LOL!! I can see Herb Sendek and Lee Fowler scratching their heads right now trying to figure out just how someone didn’t need 6 years to bring a program with infitinely more stature than that of UTEP and A&M. Again, they probably never figured out that the insightful way that Texas Tech and Texas both knew that Knight and Barnes were going to be successful was because THEY HAD A HISTORY and TRACK RECORD of SUCCESS at other schools. Something tells me that when the Athletics Directors of these schools analyze data, they don’t subjective carve out half of a coach’s actual career performance to help them make decisions!!!!
“Those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it”
I am sure the supporters of Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M are glad that their Athletics Directors don’t close their eyes to history.
A stranger in a strange land
With both A&M and Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns now boasting energized basketball programs, then maybe my stay in Texas won’t feel so foreign.
But, please don’t misinterpret my term of “energized” to correspond to what energized would mean in the Triangle. As an example of just how under-appreciated the game of basketball is in the state of Texas, the Big 12 Awards got a nice little column on page four of Tuesday’s Houston Chronicle. Houston is the 4th largest city in the county and only a 90 minute drive to College Station. A news website named AggieSports.com has not even announced the honor yet!
Additionally, the University of Texas has never experienced basketball success like they have under Rick Barnes. Despite 6 consecutive 20+ win seasons, 3 consecutive Sweet 16 appearances that includes a Final Four…UT still only averages about 11,000 fans in their dated 18,000 seat on-campus arena.
In the Comments section below, I will share CNNSI’s story on Gillispie from earlier in the year, “Extreme Makover”.