Will Kentucky Be Making A Mistake If It Fires Head Coach Billy Gillispie?

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Will Kentucky Be Making A Mistake If It Fires Head Coach Billy Gillispie?
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

I would like to tell you that Kentucky will be making a mistake if it fires Billy Gillispie after just two years on the job.

I would like to tell you that this kind of rash reaction can only damage a program’s reputation.  That this kind of move would create a ton of negative press for UK and its fans.

I would like to tell you that a coach with any sense at all would look at the unrealistic expectations of the UK fanbase and say, “thanks, but no thanks.”

I would like to tell you that over-the-top impatience (not to mention messageboard rumor-mongering) will not be rewarded.

But I can’t.

I’ve seen what’s happened with Alabama’s football program.


It was just a couple of years ago that Alabama alum Mike Shula was tossed out on his ear by the Bama bigwigs.  He had taken Bama to a Cotton Bowl just a year earlier. 

In fact, he’d taken over a program in the midst of a brutal probation.  He captained the Tide’s ship through the stormiest seas imaginable. 

But none of that mattered.  Probation or not, alumnus or not, the Alabama fanbase and mega-boosters wanted to win.  Win now.  To Hell with probation. 

So Shula was out and Rich Rodriguez was in. 

Only he wasn’t. 

So Alabama… quickly becoming a laughing-stock… hired Nick Saban.

They gave him the craziest contract in America.  No buyout if he wanted to leave.  Nearly $4 million per year.  Additional bonuses for everything under the sun.

And this past season, just two years into his stay, Alabama was back to #1 in the polls and back in a BCS bowl game.

I would like to tell you that Kentucky (or Alabama or any other fanbase) would be punished by the sporting gods for being so irrationally impatient.

But I can’t.  Money conquers all.

Programs don’t have to give coaches a fair chance at success anymore.  They just have to be willing to spend more and more until they make things right.

Alabama spent enough money (on Shula’s buyout and Saban’s new deal) to change the fortunes of their program.

If Kentucky buys out Gillispie ($1.5 million per year for four years equals $6 dang million) and then pays $4 million to John Calipari, they’ll have their program humming in a year or two.

You know it.  I know it.

There will be no punishment for a fanbase that’s got an extremely short-fuse.  There will be no long-term media backlash.  No permanent dent put into the side of the Wildcat bandwagon.

If UK pays out the big cash and lands a big name coach, the ends will justify the means.

Right or wrong, you can look no further than Alabama for proof of that.

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