Posted 03/09/2009 at 06:16 PM
Does Kentucky have the audacity to fire Billy Clyde Gillispie after just two seasons? As recently as a week ago, I didn’t think so.
But I’m starting to change my mind – quickly.
As I’ve said and written many times, maybe it was time for Tubby Smith to go after 10 years, but Kentucky was foolish to think it could find a better coach. That’s because you need only hand to name the head coaches in America that are better than Tubby.
In no particular order, I’ll say Roy Williams, Coach K, Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim and……?
You can make a decent argument that a half-dozen other coaches are better, but you can’t say it with confidence unless you’re using the five aforementioned legends.
Billy Donovan has one more national title, but Tubby absolutely owned Donovan until the Oh Fours came along and led the Gators to back-to-back national titles. Bill Self’s rise in the coaching profession began at Tulsa where he thrived with players Tubby had recruited to the school before taking the Georgia job.
Ben Howland? He doesn’t have the ring Tubby has. Ditto to Tom Crean, Mark Few, Mike Montgomery, Jamie Dixon, Bob Huggins, Sean Miller and Jay Wright.
Tom Izzo? Maybe, but Tubby’s (inferior) team beat the Spartans by double digits at Minnesota this year.
My point? I warned the Big Blue Nation that it had better be careful what it wished for in running Tubby out of Lexington. Say what you want about Tubby’s recruiting, but he never missed the NCAA Tournament during his time at UK.
Under Gillispie, the ‘Cats are on the bubble for a second straight year. Unless they win the SEC Tournament this week, Selection Sunday will not include the Big Blue for the first time since 1991.
And here’s the thing – next year doesn’t look much better. Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks might go pro and if they do, the roster will look like NIT material again in 2009-2010.
As for Gillispie’s “fit” off the court in Lexington, it hasn’t been pretty. He looked like a jerk with unprofessional remarks to an ESPN sideline reporter twice this year during live interviews.
Back on the court, UK has lost four in a row and eight of its last 11 in a year in which the SEC is as down as it has been in decades. Most notably, the ‘Cats lost on Senior Night to a dreadful Georgia squad that had not won an SEC road game all year long and was playing with an interim head coach.
We’ll see what Kentucky does in Tampa this week. If it loses to Ole Miss in the first round, don’t be floored if Gillispie takes a pink slip.