1. A winner
That’s the ultimate judgment. I’ve received angry e-mails from Billy Gillispie supporters arguing that were UK’s record better, Gillispie would still be coach. But it wasn’t better, so Gillispie’s inability to play nice with others came into play.
Still, the point is well taken. If you’re going to be the coach of the winningest program in college basketball, you need to win.
2. A recruiter
To win, you have to have players. The days when Kentucky attracted players simply because it was Kentucky are over. The school spent $30 million on the Craft Center, its indoor practice facility, yet its recruiting doesn’t seem measurably better than it was when the team practiced in Memorial Coliseum.
You recruit good players with a good product, a good coach, a good school, and a good recruiter.
This characteristic might not be so important were the next candidate not following a coach who seemed uncomfortable with the personality aspects of the job. Considering this will be UK’s third coach in four years, it might help to have someone who gets the fan base excited.
No. 3 ties into No. 4. If you are going to excite the fan base, you have to be accessible to the fan base. That means speaking engagements, public appearances, charity events. Follow Tubby Smith’s example. Don’t be just a part of the university, be a part of the community, and the state.
5. An Ambassador
In everything he does and says, with every move he makes, the Kentucky coach represents the school, the program, and the state. Find someone who can do that in the best way possible.
6. comfortable in his own skin
You never really got that feeling with Gillispie, for whatever reason. The coach who can handle this job is someone who has self-confidence, self-respect and knows how to handle the praise as well as the criticism. He’ll receive an ample supply of both.
7. An appealing style of play
Does this mean the three-point-shooting, pressing, run-and-gun style of the Rick Pitino days? Not necessarily. But Kentucky has a tradition of “racehorse” basketball that for the most part has served the program well over the years.
Besides, today’s recruits want a style of play that showcases their talents, especially for the next level. Two examples are Coaches Bruce Pearl at Tennessee and Mike Anderson at Missouri. There’s a reason they were able to turn those programs so quickly.
After Gillispie’s rigid notions about the game, it would serve the next coach to be a bit more flexible.
Yes, Kentucky has high expectations. Yes, those expectations sometimes spill beyond realistic bounds. So if you’re going to be the coach at Kentucky, you had better be driven to succeed.
When Billy Gillispie got the Kentucky job, I remember C.M. Newton sounding a cautionary word. The retired athletics director said he was a little surprised at the hire, given Gillispie’s lack of experience.