UK Men’s Basketball Coach Billy Clyde Gillispie, pictured here with recruit Michael Avery, is now Former UK Men’s Basketball Coach Billy Clyde Gillispie. So, what happened???
This is not a simple question. To a lot of people outside of the Commonwealth, the news that BCG has been fired will be seen as proof positive that UK fans are crazy rednecks who expect a National Title every year and an average margin of victory of 234 points. However, since they said the same things about us, and yes I am a crazy UK fan, two years ago when Tubby Smith left, I am pleased that at least we won’t be racist crazy rednecks.
Yes, BCG underachieved when compared to the standard of UK basketball, but that is NOT the reason he is out. The reason, as Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and UK President Lee Todd pointed out, is that BCG was a bad fit as the UK coach. Not on the court necessarily, but as far as embracing the entire job, with its media and public relations aspect, BCG fell way short. John Clay of the LHL points this out in his column today and he also points out something even more important. UK should have known this.
Barnhart is catching a lot of hell on the television,radio, Internet, and even Facebook. The fact that BCG did not go to the NCAA tournament is not Barnhart’s fault. The fact that he was not ever a good fit at UK is entirely the fault of Barnhart. When BCG was hired, it was within about 24 hours of first being contacted by UK. That is not enough time to get to know someone and figure out if they have the type of personality to handle the most high profile and pressure packed job in the entire Commonwealth. BCG may have been an a-hole, but he has been an a-hole his whole life. UK should have known this.
Because of this, more than anyone else, Barnhart deserves the blame. But, since he still has the backing of Todd, he will have the chance to correct his biggest mistake. The next UK coach, whoever it may be, is going to have Mitch’s job status riding on his back. Barnhart has never been that popular at UK, despite helping raise the status and winning percentage of UK’s non-revenue sports. It was only a few years ago that the “Ditch Mitch and Rich” bumper stickers were on a lot of cars. UK football coach Rich Brooks has won over the masses, mainly by winning. Mitch, however, has not been celebrated at UK, but merely tolerated. This next hire will be the most important, because if the new coach fails, the cries for Barnhart’s head may be so big that even Todd, no matter how much he supports him, may not be able to save him.