On February 2nd, Texas A&M will host the Kentucky Wildcats in a conference rematch which saw the Aggies take the win in Rupp earlier in the year. Aggies head coach, Billy Kennedy extended an offer to Gillispie to watch the Aggies take on the ‘Cats. Gillispie has told the Dallas Morning News that Kennedy has extended previous offers, but he is actually going to be playing golf in College Station on the day of the game. Gillispie reportedly said “I think I’ll go.” and then told the paper “But it’s no big deal.”
Billy Gillispie coached Texas A&M from 2004-2007, where he lead the Aggies to the Sweet 16 in 2006-07. During his tenure, he had an overall record of 70-26 and was named Big XII Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2007. He then went on to replace Tubby “Orlando” Smith who left Kentucky for Minnesota. After two years of “incompatibility” with the fans and the Kentucky program, he was fired after going 40-27 and losing in the NIT to Notre Dame. Since leaving the ‘Cats, Gillispie took a job with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Before this season started, allegations surfaced about Gillispie’s practices as head coach. Grueling conditioning sessions, leaving players wondering about their scholarships, and forcing injured players to practice. Soon before Gillispie was supposed to meet with Texas Tech officials about the allegations, he was admitted to an area hospital with heart-attack like symptoms. On September 20th, Gillispie formally resigned from his position at Texas Tech amid health concerns.
For Billy Gillispie to be seen in public after those public allegations is quite the big deal. To go a game that your former team is playing against the team that fired you, that’s a big deal. Gillispie noted that he has tremendous respect for both Kennedy and Calipari, and is just there to be a spectator. The self-described work-a-holic told the paper he had a scare, but his blood pressure problems are under control. As for his future plans, he says he has an impending sale on his home in Lubbock, and he’s headed to Mexico for a charity fishing tournament. Before the interview was complete, he said “And before you ask, hell no I don’t know how to fish.”
The transition period between Tubby Smith to John Calipari was one of mediocrity and riddled with stress. Not only was the Kentucky basketball team losing to the likes of Gardner-Webb and VMI, but they were also on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble. The fact the ‘Cats were on the bubble in the first place makes news, but to miss the tournament all together spelled doom for Gillispie. Former players like Perry Stevenson have come out publicly and said Gillispie’s allegations at Texas Tech were not a surprise. He is famous for withholding the “Witness” Nike t-shirts after Jodie Meeks dropped 54 on Tennessee, and the “that’s a bad question” interview with Jeannine Edwards vs. Ole Miss. The best news for Kentucky fans in this situation involves time. Not a single Kentucky player on the roster will care if Billy G. is in the stands, and neither will John Calipari.