First on Gillispie, Thank You

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, 2006Two of my favorite coaches do battle

March 1, 2006Two 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, “Gillispie’s Texas ties run deep as he began his coaching career in the state’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 UTEP’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.

General NCS Basketball

13 Responses to First on Gillispie, Thank You

  1. coppertop 04/06/2006 at 12:21 AM #

    Def. a texas guy, although he has potential… hopefully our search won’t make it to ‘c’ but if it does… I certainly wouldn’t complain about this guy!

  2. MurphNCSU 04/06/2006 at 12:52 AM #

    It is only fair for Texas to send Rick home and embrace Billy at their flagship school. Everybody wins, only time would tell who wins more.

  3. lakepacker 04/06/2006 at 7:13 AM #

    While I agree RB has got to be the first choice, I am surprised no more mention of Mike Davis than there has been. He did a great job at Indiana under very difficult circumstances and could bring some intensity and an up tempo game here. I am sure he would jump and stay if successful.

  4. Trout 04/06/2006 at 7:16 AM #

    ^ Mike Davis has been hired as UAB’s new coach to replace Mike Anderson, who took the Missouri job, replacing Quinn Snyder, who was fired.

  5. db321 04/06/2006 at 8:11 AM #

    I’ve also been amazed at Billy G’s accomplishments. As far as the regionalism concerns, if he has a charismatic personality, which it appears he does, then I would think he could recruit on the east coast, especially at NC State. And, if he can coach and is able to be successful rather quickly, which has been the case in the past, then he’ll gain credibility quickly. I think Barnes and Wright are the two shoot for the moon candidates. Calipari isn’t even going to get a look in my opinion. After that, I’d have Gillispie near, if not at the top, of my list. Frank Haith, who I think will be a good coach and can certainly recruit, would be the absolute worst hire we’ll get. And, although I would be somewhat disappointed with that hire, I do think his potential is greater than Herb.

  6. Wolfpack Willie 04/06/2006 at 8:21 AM #

    FYI, here is a link to NCAA Div. I coaching records through 2005.

  7. Chief93 04/06/2006 at 9:32 AM #

    “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.”

    Like making the NCAA tournament after five years of not making it despite it having never been done before. 😉

  8. Chief93 04/06/2006 at 9:33 AM #

    But, seriously, Mike Davis scared the hell out of me. Glad he’s off the table.

  9. Chief93 04/06/2006 at 9:37 AM #

    On topic, I’m sure Hendu is as aware of the rest of us that you’ve been a Gillespie fan, but in fairness to him, we’ve only had an opening for five days. Prior to that, there was no real need for him to profile various coaches around the nation.

    SFN: No doubt. This is one of the advantages of running a non-revenue model blog that has the flexibility and liberty go wherever we want.

  10. Nate Johnson 04/06/2006 at 3:02 PM #

    Good analysis of Coach Gillispie’s situation and history.

    I’d agree that his fit would be good. He’s no Valvano on the sidelines or on the air, but he’s certainly more outward with his passion than Sendek was. From all accounts, he runs a good, clean program that focuses on discipline (not quite Coach Carter, but moreso than average, I’d figure).

    That said, I’m left to wonder what he would do from here. In my previous comment, my concern is not so much how much of a turnaround master he is, but what the next step for him (and us, should he become our next coach) would be. There are not one but two big question marks with Gillispie:His recruiting ability on a national stage. There is tremendous potential here, but moving him from Texas to the east coast at this point would serve both to water down his ability to recruit as effectively in his home base as he can now and he doesn’t have quite the national exposure that other major name or even mid-major coaches have. It stands to reason that simply being the head coach at NC State — along with the facilities that he’d have in Raleigh — would give him some of that exposure; however, another candidate (e.g. other top tier candidates or a rising mid-major star) would have him beat, at least in the short term.State is not in need of a turnaround master or mythbuster now. Sendek and Gillispie have accomplished the same thing at their respective schools; although, to be sure, Gillispie did it in a much shorter time. What State needs now is the coach who can take the team to the next level. We’re consistently in the NCAAT now (how many times have we heard that in the last two months?). We want someone who can get us to ACCT finals and the Final Four consistently, recruit McD’s AAs regularly, and hang some banners from the rafters.Don’t get me wrong: I think as highly of Coach Gillispie (if not more so) than anyone here. If we were where we were 10 years ago, he’d definitely be the guy for us. Problem is — and it’s a nice problem to have — we’re not. We’re consistently in or very near the Top 25 — now we need someone to get us to the top of the Top 25. For the kind of money that’s being talked about, I’d argue strongly for finding someone with a proven talent to do that. Sendek was successful getting us this far, but that’s as far as Gillispie’s ever been. Whether that’s more a function of a lack of talent or — what I think — a lack of being in one place long enough (e.g. more than two years!) is up for some debate.

    All that said, I’m playing a bit of devil’s advocate here. We could do far worse than Coach Gillispie. That said, I do think there are better fits for us out there — coaches with some banners of their own hanging in the rafters along with a little more presence nationally. Gillispie will be there in a couple of years, and as I said to my fiancee last night, if he continues to improve the A&M program in the next two years at the same rate he has in the last two, they’re going to have to pony up more than an extra $1M over the next six years to keep him in College Station.

  11. wolfbuff 04/06/2006 at 3:54 PM #

    The other concern I have with Gillispie is that if he is from TX and has coached there his whole career, he has the potential to go back there some day if his dream job (Maybe UT?) was to open up. Same reason that Barnes is (allegedly) interested in coming back to NC to coach here even though he “has it made” in Austin. It’s not always about money or the program, or a higher profile conference with national exposure. Sometimes it’s just a matter of where you’re from.


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