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Billy Gillispie has run off 15 players since taking over at Texas Tech, reportedly made player cry in pain

Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie was released from the hospital last Thursday, where he spent six days after experiencing feelings that he thought were a heart attack or stroke. In the meantime, his coaching career could be crashing down around him.

Last week, word of Gillispie mistreating players surfaced as some said they were berated by the coach for their appearance and forced to practice long hours. Allegations have continued to surface from various players, coaches and staff at Texas Tech.

According to CBSSports.com, a total of 15 players have left the program since Gillispie took over in March of 2011. When you include coaches, trainers and other staff, the number increases to 30. The most recent person to bail on the Red Raiders was high-profile recruit Wannah Bail, whose departure was originally thought to have something to do with academics.

“It was because of Gillispie,” a source close to the program told CBSSports.com. “He couldn’t deal with him.”

Bail’s story is an example of one of the more minor issues players and employees have had with Gillispie. Former Indiana guard Tom Coverdale says he quit his job at Tyler Junior College when Gillispie offered him an assistant coaching position. When he arrived, he said he was informed that it was actually a strength position that paid about half of what he was promised. Several other coaches have claimed they were offered jobs only to have the offers pulled. Others say they took jobs and left because they had no idea what their role with the team was.

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Billy Gillispie reportedly mistreated players, broke practice rules

Billy Gillispie is under scrutiny again, this time for reportedly mistreating his players and breaking practice rules at Texas Tech.

Word of Gillispie’s reported mistreatment emerged after the players met with compliance officers and later athletic director Kirby Hocutt, ESPN reported.

Six players have transferred from last season’s squad that went 8-23 and 1-17 in conference. Two of those players told CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman that Gillispie’s practices routinely lasted more than four hours, which is more than the NCAA allows. Players described one particular practice last November that they say lasted around 10 hours.

“We practiced two hours, then he told us to leave and go shave because he didn’t like the way we looked,” Kevin Wagner, who transferred to McClellan Junior College, told CBS Sports. “Then we came back, practiced two more hours before he told us to get a haircut. Then we came back and did about four more before he kicked us out.”

Gillispie’s mistreatment and rule-breaking reportedly even existed for injured players.

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Kentucky Reporters Sure Are Considerate and Sensitive to Billy Gillispie

So Billy Gillispie got the axe from Kentucky on Friday. I’m not sure if anything can portray the friction between Gillispie and the media better than the following video. This is how desperate two TV reporters from Kentucky were to get a comment from Gillispie who clearly was pulling the “Cellphone to the ear bit” even though he wasn’t talking with anyone.

Alright, so there’s the side of Gillispie about which the folks at UK were complaining. Kentucky’s athletic director, Mitch Barnhardt, tried to say it was an irreconcilable difference in philosophy and that Kentucky needed more from a coach than just winning or losing. That’s total b.s.; Gillispie could be as big of a jerk as he wants as long as they win 25+ games, the SEC regular season, and they go far in the tournament. The “ambassador for the program” bullcrap was only a convenient excuse to can the guy for having back-to-back sub-par years. Why do you think Gillispie said his only regret was that he didn’t win more? Had he won a little more, they would have kept him around regardless of whether or not he shmoozes the alumni.

Two comparisons here: Ben Howland was 29-28 after two seasons then went to three straight Final Fours. Gillispie was 40-27. Also, Howland’s a jerk too, it’s just that people don’t talk about it because the team wins. Just wait til they have a down year — that’s when it might become a problem. Kentucky better have a darn good replacement in mind if they’re going to kick out a top notch coach like Gillispie, and I’m talking Pitino or Calipari good. This might work out better for Billy G.; he could wind up in a better situation, like Arizona or Oklahoma State (if UK hires Travis Ford). As for the reporters, that’s going a little too far, wouldn’t you say?

So Is Billy Gillispie Fired from Kentucky or Not? He Shouldn’t Be

After Kentucky got dropped in the N.I.T. by Notre Dame on Wednesday night, there was heavy speculation that coach Billy Gillispie would be fired. In Game Now, citing no specific sources, said he was gone on Thursday (that didn’t happen). Then late Thursday night, several sites linked to a report from WHAS that supposedly said Gillispie was fired according to multiple sources. Well, just see below how that’s turned out:

WHAS does have a TV report saying Gillispie is out as Kentucky’s coach, but I’ll wait for an official announcement to believe it. TV stations and newspapers have been wrong before, especially when they’re trying to be first in breaking news. I’ve said it before here plenty of times that I’m a big fan of Gillispie. If they make a change it will be completely ill-timed and nothing other than a reactionary move.

How can you only give a guy two years to do his thing? That’s not a fair shake. Furthermore, I do believe they have the right guy and one of the finest coaches around. They have some stars on the team, they did some good things this year. With his recruiting touch, they can be running through the SEC in no time. Have patience Kentucky, I know it’s a new word for you, but just have patience. Ben Howland was 29-28 in his first two years at UCLA. Then he went to three straight Final Fours. Gillispie can do the same thing.

Billy Gillispie Isn’t Fond of Halftime Interviews with Jeannine Edwards

This is like the dream scenario for me. I’m a huge Billy Gillispie fan, having gone on the record a long time ago saying that it was a great hire for Kentucky. I still feel that way. Perhaps it’s because I think on the same level as this guy (you know, in a non-basketball sense) that I appreciate the video so much. I’ve also been on record saying that sideline reporters and sideline reports for the most part serve no purpose in game telecasts. Clearly Gillispie agrees. He made reporter Jeannine Edwards look pretty bad in the Ole Miss game, and the two met once again this week. Naturally the exchange went smoothly. Or not.

If a coach were embarrassing a reporter I would not agree with his/her actions. But if a coach is pointing out that the reporter is asking poor questions (which was the case), then I think that’s fair. Allow me to give Edwards and all other halftime interviewers a brief lesson: your first (and often only) question to ask should be … what do you plan to do differently in the second half? This question does not intrude the coach’s privacy and allows him/her the freedom to take the question where he wants. Then, you may also ask a follow-up question if there is an injury to a key player. Outside of that, what else could you possibly achieve with an interview that lasts 30 seconds with a person who does not wish to speak with you?

8th Grader Commits to Kentucky Hoops

You’ve probably asked yourself at some point what age is too young? For Karl Malone, 11 might seem to be the appropriate answer. For Roger Clemens, 14 might be the breaking point. But for Billy Gillispie, 14 seems like it might be the prime age. Sports by Brooks brings it to my attention the news that Kentucky has offered a scholarship and received a commitment from an 8th grader. As you could probably imagine, the news has turned some heads:

When news of the commitment reached a meeting of the UK Athletics Association Board of Directors on Thursday, it stunned school President Lee T. Todd Jr.

“An eighth-grader?!” he blurted out.

After noting that plenty of time remained for such an early commitment to be rescinded, Todd expressed his wish that Kentucky not regularly seek a college choice from a child who had not yet entered high school.

To put this in proper prospective, Michael Avery (the middle-schooler in question), has not yet selected a high school! The Lake Sherwood kid is thinking about going to Crespi here in Encino, or potentially to a private school in Indiana. Look, I’m not out to say that you can’t tell if a basketball player’s exceptional even at the young age of 14, but just the thought is disturbing. Honestly, pick a high school first, and then worry about a college.

Billy Gillispie and Kentucky Is the Perfect Marriage

Even though I’m not a Kentucky fan, let me take the time to explain why UK made a brilliant move in hiring Billy Gillispie, as the current reports suggest.

To start, Billy Gillispie coaches Texas A&M in basketball. Basketball! Not football mind you, but basketball. I guarantee you most people didn’t even know A&M had a basketball program. No joke, they have as much of a reputation in basketball as I do in Wrestlemania. In fact, the year before Gillispie joined the program, they had as many wins in Big 12 play as Larry Brown Sports University did — zero.

Think about this, Billy Gillispie took a team that was 7-21 (0-16) the year before he arrived, and turned them around for the ’04-’05 season with a highly respectable 21-10 (8-8) mark, that included an 11-0 start.

Two years ago, Gillispie’s second on the job, A&M ended up 22-9 (10-6), which was good for fourth in the conference, the highest Big 12 finish in school history at that point. More notably perhaps, was the fact that Billy Gillispie had in only two seasons, led Texas A&M to the tournament for the first time in 19 years. Their outcome you ask? I only have to ask my buddy Rey, who accurately predicted that the 12th seeded Aggies would knock off the 5th seeded Syracuse Orange, who were led by Gerry McNamara, and were fresh off a Big East conference tournament victory.

Finally, this past season, Texas A&M truly burst onto the scene as an emerging power in college basketball. The Aggies went an impressive 27-7 (13-3), which allowed them to receive a three seed in the tournament. They reached the Sweet 16 before losing to Memphis in a nail-biter.

In only three seasons as head coach of Texas A&M, Billy Gillispie took a team that was a pitiful 0-16 in Big 12 play, and turned them into a force that finished 13-3 and second in the conference.

If you’re still not convinced that Billy Gillispie is an amazing coach, here’s more proof. In his first season at UTEP, ’02-’03, the Miners were a disastrous 6-24. Their next season however, ’03-’04, they went 24-8, capturing the WAC title despite finishing last the year before.

After a turn-around like that, it’s easy to see why Texas A&M pounced on Gillispie. It’s also should be pretty easy to see why Billy Gillispie is the perfect fit for one of the most high profile coaching jobs in the entire country, head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky.

If Billy Gillispie could turn a horse shit program like UTEP into a winner, and a dog shit program like Texas A&M into a major player, imagine what he’ll be able to do with one of the most storied programs in college basketball history.