Gillispie Completes Facelift at Texas Tech

Billy Gillispie's introduction as the new men's basketball coach at Texas Tech completes a change that started years ago.

LUBBOCK — Wednesday's introduction of Billy Gillispie as the new men's head basketball coach was a lot different than the one that came exactly 10 years ago to the day.

"Texas Tech is a good program with the chance to become a great program and that's why he's here," new Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said.

And he's right.

If it's anything we've learned in the last few years as a country, it's that change is inevitable.

This wasn't the hiring of Bob Knight to take over a program that fell on hard times and trouble with the NCAA. No, this is about finishing a facelift on Tech that began five years ago with the hiring of Kristy Curry as the women's basketball coach to succeed hall of fame coach Marsha Sharp.

Sharp left on her own terms, albeit with an announcement a little sooner than she wanted after the news leaked into the media that she planned to leave her coaching position after 25 years. The only Tech coach with a national championship was on her way out, watching the women's basketball leagues and recruiting landscape change as she left the podium in her final press conference at the Big 12 Tournament in Dallas.

The move to bring in Curry was all about a fresh, young coach with a winning and proven track record to revitalize the program.

Not a bad program, just one that fell on hard times.

Then next thing we all knew, legendary Tech baseball coach Larry Hays was hanging up his scarlet and black spikes to move into more of a fundraising position with the university after 22 years with the Red Raiders. He was the fourth coach to ever win 1,500 NCAA games at the time and won plenty of conference titles while he was at it.

Again — not a bad program, just one in dire need of some change.

But the last 15 months have not been the same.

In 15 months, arguably the three biggest positions in athletics have experienced that same change in different manners.

It all started with the now famous "closet" and courtroom drama surrounding the ever-popular head football coach Mike Leach and his very public firing. Out with the fan favorite and in place a winning SEC coach with another proven track record.

But this was not a program with many problems in the fans eyes, being just one season removed from competing for a national title. But it was the only season in 10 years that Tech ever came close to such a dream.

Then the news of Gerald Myers stepping down after 14 years of service as athletic director and more than 30 as a coach and administrator. The wheels were in full motion for a completely new era to be brought in.

That final piece fell way before Pat Knight met with Tech president Guy Bailey on March 7. The writing was about 10 feet high on the wall in the United Spirit Arena and clear as day to see with very few fans packing the seats to see a Red Raider game. In fact, there were still five games left in the season when the "CHANGE" shirts featuring Billy Gillispie's face on the front began appearing at United Spirit Arena and on campus following a massive push on Facebook to hire the former Texas A&M coach.

Now five years after Sharp's retirement, the faces of Tech's five biggest teams have changed. Myers, Leach, Bob Knight, Sharp. Hocutt, Tuberville, Gillispie, Curry.

Only one coach has even begun to meet the expectations set forth when the job became hers. Curry and the Lady Raiders returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, losing in the first round to St. John's. But expectations go up another notch when you make the postseason and just one player will not be back the next year.

Tuberville had an average year for a first — going 8-5 with a TicketCity Bowl win over Northwestern. But he also added a No. 19 recruiting class just one month after the bowl win — the highest recruiting class ever at Tech since online rankings began. Again, expectations go up and especially when fans keep hearing the word "championship" over and over.

Gillispie was not one to shy away completely from those questions on Wednesday. And his boss did not make it any easier.

"The process we've been through over the last two weeks has positioned us to take this program to a level it's never been before," Hocutt said before introducing Gillispie. "A level back to where this time of year we'll be dancing in the NCAA Tournament."

So what is the realistic timeline for Gillispie and Texas Tech dancing once again in the NCAA Tournament?

"Our goal is to win every time we get on the court – no matter who we are playing or what the circumstances may be," Gillispie said. "I can't guarantee every single game is going to be a win. I can guarantee that there is not anybody that's going to come into this place and play harder than us or better together than us. I'll guarantee that to happen. And when you have those things happening, and If you have the right talent, those things usually turn into being winners."

Looks like someone is already practicing his dance moves.

Travis Cram is the Managing Editor of RaiderPower.com. Email him at travis.f.cram@gmail.com and you can also follow his daily Texas Tech updates on Twitter.


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