The reason Billy Gillispie was able to leave Texas A&M for the bluegrass of Kentucky is that he never signed his contract.â†µ
That's right, he never actually guaranteed that he'd be paid all those millions of dollars just so he'd have the leverage to take a bigger job if it came around. A lot of fans were turned off forever by Gillispie's actions at the end of his tenure at A&M, but it's what he did in the years before that which is relevant now.
Gillispie took a team that hadn't been good since the 80s and turned it into a consistent winner. He did it not by recruiting top athletes, but by fitting in guys who played hard and tough for his system. Guys like Chris Walker and Dominique Kirk. Neither had half the athletic ability of someone like John Wall or even Patrick Patterson, but both thrived in Gillespie's system.â†µ
That's why Texas Tech fans should be happy right now. Read Justice's post about him and you'll see a lot about the intangibles of this move. He's right in saying that Gillespie can both recruit and coach. He'll have Tech playing tough starting next year and it might be enough to jump them ahead of teams like Kansas State and Oklahoma State.â†µ
He'll bring in big-name players every now and then, but Gillispie's real genius is in finding talented players who slip through the cracks. He has contacts all through the state's high school ranks. He'll find the 6-foot-4 guy who'd run through a wall for a scholarship. That guy will lead Tech back to the NCAA tournament just as much as those 4- and 5-star Rivals recruit.â†µ
Am I glad to see Gillispie back in the Big 12? As a Texas A&M fan, nope. But, as a fan of the man, I couldn't be happier to see him coaching again.