UK finally named Billy the Kid as their coach. Nope, not THE Billy the Kid. Not the hottest coach in college basketball, Billy Donovan (that's Dunnavan for Billy Packer.)
Instead they got Billy Gillispie. Uneducated UK fans (is that redundant?) are probably scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong. So let's review that first:
1. Billy Donovan turned down UK. It is my personal belief that Mitch Barnhart, Athletics Director at UK is a moron. How are you going to watch a Rick Pitino disciple who won 26 games per year (Tubby Smith) get effectively ran out of Lexington by malcontent fans and then expect ANOTHER Pitino disciple to take that same job? I'd lay money down that Pitino and Donovan talked and Pitino advised him against it. And if so, he was right to do so.
2. Jay Wright didn't want it. The coach at Villanova, didn't want to coach at Kentucky. What does this tell you? It tells you the effect of the UK fans is enormous. Wright was probably scared to take the job.
3. Rick Pitino didn't want it. Why would he have? Been there, conquered that. You can't go home again.
4. Rick Barnes didn't want it. Barnes was probably in Wright's boat. Scared out of the job. He can exist as the second fiddle in Austin and not deal the pressures of coaching in the hot Lexington spotlight.
What went right.
1. Barnes didn't want it. Look, Rick Barnes is a good coach, not a great coach. He's never been the ELITE EIGHT. With Kevin Durrant, the best player in college basketball and an able supporting cast, he couldn't get out of the second round. Barnes would be dead meat in Lexington.
2. Billy Gilispie wanted to coach UK like a hooker wants a health care plan. He turned down Arkansas. He didn't sign a VERY lucrative extension with his current school Texas A&M that would have made him the highest paid coach in the Big Twelve. He held out because he WANTED to be UK's next coach. That bodes well because he's a good defensive coach, an efficient offensive coach (He won't be funning and gunning like Pitino Kayaat's fans, so don't expect that) and he's been immediately successful at his previous two stops. He's a tireless recruiter and a hard worker.
I don't know if Gillispie will work long term at UK or not. I do think he was the second best man for the job. And Mitch Barnhardt probably lucked out in getting a coach of Gillispie's quality after a major screw job of a coaching search.
If there's a knock to be made on Billy Gillispie it is this: he's been a head coach for all of five years. And that's at UTEP and Texas A&M. Gillispie has no idea the media circus that awaits him. I wish him luck. But not too much. After all, I hate UK.