Could Billy Gillispie be making his way back into coaching? That’s the rumor going around the University of Houston, at least. The former Texas A&M/Kentucky head coach turned scofflaw has presumably been living large back in his home state of Texas for the last year after he sued and ultimately settled with UK for roughly three million dollars.
Why Houston, you say? Well, Cougars head coach Tom Penders announced his resignation from the school today. He was 121-77 in six years at the school, culminating with the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in eighteen years over the weekend. The 64-year old man who has coached for over thirty years at five different schools along the way was quick to say that he’s not retiring:
I came to the University of Houston in 2004 with the goal of getting UH back to the NCAA tournament. We achieved this goal and now it is time for me to move on. We’ll go down in history as the team that brought UH back to national prominence, and I’m so proud of my players and staff.
It’s odd that he would resign without having another job in hand, but maybe there’s more to the story than meets the eye. We won’t speculate on what that might be, but he spent three years in the early 2000s as a tv and radio analyst between jobs at GW and Houston, so maybe he figures he’ll fall back on that for a while until another coaching challenge presents itself.
As for the Gillispie angle, current Houston AD Mack Rhoades has a connection with the embattled coach that dates back to their time spent at UTEP together in the early part of the last decade. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on Rhoades’ point of view, but he was quick to say that Gillispie might be a possibility for the opening. This could actually be a very reasonable spot for BCG to resurface, as he’s very familiar with the Texas recruiting landscape and the expectations in Houston will be considerably more tempered than they were at Kentucky.
If he gets the job, the first thing on an ESPN programming director’s agenda should be to set up a Houston road game at Lexington. With Jeannine Edwards as the sideline reporter. And Alan Cutler as the first questioner in the postgame press conference. Please… somebody make this happen.