Bilas: Broyles Doesn't Know What He's Doing

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles had hoped to make a splash nationally by hiring Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie to replace Stan Heath as the new men's basketball coach.

But Gillispie's apparent decision early Wednesday to turn down Arkansas' offer has led some national college basketball analysts to question the way Broyles has handled the situation.

"Generally, I'm not surprised anymore at the ridiculousness of hiring and firing by people, but some administrators understand what they're doing and some don't," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said Wednesday afternoon.

"Nothing really surprises me or shocks me anymore, but I do think Stan's firing is indicative that Frank Broyles doesn't have any idea what he's doing."

Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday that Gillispie had decided to remain at Texas A&M, but then word broke toward the end of the day from sources close to the Arkansas basketball program that he was still considering the Arkansas job.

If Gillispie rejects the offer, as some still expect, Broyles would be forced to scramble for a backup plan. Kansas' Bill Self, Southern California's Tim Floyd and UNLV's Lon Kruger would be considered potential candidates.

"I don't see the established guys at places like you mentioned wanting to go," said ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale. "I could see someone going laterally, maybe. But you know, you don't want to mess with happiness if you're already doing well at a place."

If Broyles can't secure a big-name coach like Self or Floyd, he could go after Winthrop's Gregg Marshall or Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery.

But neither of them have the same type of name recognition as Gillispie, and they likely won't generate the same type of excitement among Arkansas fans as Gillispie would have if he accepted the job.

"Those kind of guys might be interested," Vitale said of Marshall and Lowery. "It's a great job for someone wanting to step up, to get into a big arena, take care of your family financially."

Bilas agrees that Arkansas is still an attractive job, possibly one of the top 20 in college basketball.

But Broyles' decision to fire Heath without having a replacement lined up doesn't look good from a public relations standpoint.

"It doesn't matter how it looks; it matters whether they know what they're doing or not. And based upon the moves that they've made, they don't," Bilas said of Arkansas' athletic officials.

"That's just my opinion, I don't expect other people to agree with that. But that was a mess when Stan Heath took it over, and listen, if you don't feel like he's a good enough coach, that's fine.

"That's their decision to make, but clearly with the way this has been handled and approached from the initial hiring until now, it's not been skillfully or deftly handled.

"I think that's a pretty clear conclusion to be drawn from this."

Bilas said he questions why Arkansas was willing to hire a young coach like Heath in the first place if the school wasn't going to give him time to turn the program around.

Before replacing Nolan Richardson in 2002, Heath had spent only season as a head coach, leading Kent State to the Elite Eight.

But ESPN college basketball anaylst Doug Gottlieb said it's more important for Broyles to hire a coach with an exciting style of play than one who is easily identifable to fans.

"Stan Heath's style was a Big Ten style, grind them out, get at you defensively and run set after set offensively," Gottlieb said. "It was effective late in his run, but not enough to fill up that arena and really have the buzz and have those pig sooie chants and have that intimidating home-court atmosphere.

"I think style of play is huge, much more so than the name caliber coach you are going to get."

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