|Billy Gillispie resigned Thursday as coach of Texas Tech. (bleacherreport.com)|
This is how it had to end. It was the only way that made sense.
And yet while Billy Gillispie resigning as the head coach of Texas Tech Thursday — citing health as the reason although he may not have had a job much longer anyway — was probably best all around, everyone involved in the situation is now worse off.
Billy Gillipsie will have trouble finding a new job. Gillispie was accused of mistreating and overworking his players, causing many of them to leave the program. Gillispie did not defend himself against the accusations because he was in the hospital dealing with stress and other health issues.
Coaching shouldn't be on Gillispie's radar until his health is in order, but even when he's ready, it won't be an easy comeback. This is the coach's second failed stop (the first being at Kentucky) and now it is going to be hard for players to trust him and buy into his system. Both his coaching and personal reputations are bruised and will need time to heal, if they ever do.
The Red Raider basketball program is in just as bad of shape. Texas Tech was steamrolled throughout the season — finishing 8-23 overall and 1-17 in Big 12 play — and bringing in a third coach in as many years will delay the rebuilding process.
I wrote earlier how Texas Tech had no choice but to part ways with Gillispie, especially after what happened with the school and former football coach Mike Leach. This outcome was inevitable, but it is far from a happy ending.
Texas Tech is not the easiest place to recruit players. The school is in Lubbock, located in the middle of west Texas — not exactly a metropolis area — where football is still the king. The prestige of being in the Big 12 helps, but is then countered by the fact the in-state recruiting competition is more talented Baylor and Texas, not to mention conference foe Kansas, who has found success recruiting in the conference's southernmost state.
The focal point of the player mistreatment allegations has been Gillispie, but there are those who have placed blame on the players, calling them soft. Others have come to Gillispie's defense, including former players who say they would play for him again. Coaches interested in being Gillispie's replacement might be hesitant to enter the situation for fear of receiving the same reputation. The new coach may even change his coaching style, easing up on practices and preparation out of precaution. If allegations arise for a second time, the Red Raider job will look like a career death sentence.
Gillispie will spend time away from coaching to restore his health, which is his first priority. Coaching is on the back burner, and maybe time will help heal his reputation.
Texas Tech is now in the hunt for a new coach. The rebuilding process has started over, and fans will have to sit through another long winter of losing. Gillispie's first season with the team did not amount to many wins, but often the second year is more successful. Now success is at least three or four years away.
The players were able to part with their coach, but three coaches in three years is never successful for players. Regardless of fault, they too have a stigma attached to them.
Then there's the new coach, whoever he may turn out to be. The Texas Tech job has now become possibly the most difficult job in the country. Who wants to inherit a controversial program that could barely compete on the court last year? This is not a quick fix. It will take time, patience and strong will.
This is as close to a happy ending as the situation could get in Lubbock, but no one is left smiling.
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