It’s been the worst kept secret in college basketball all season, not given a whole heck of a lot of attention primarily because the Texas Tech Raiders just aren’t really registering even the slightest blip on the proverbial radar. But the signs couldn’t have been more ominous dating back to last season and, finally, just one day after we turned the books on the 2011 regular season, Pat Knight has been relieved of his duties as Raiders head coach – a gig he sort of fell into once his venerable father decided to hang it up.
The ousting of Knight marks the first major coaching causality of the year, and if you like awesomely awkward situations I recommend you root for the Red Raiders to pull of the improbable this week. Knight will continue to coach the team for the Big 12 Conference Tournament, so if they were to secure an automatic bid some serious decision-making would follow.
Last fall, Knight admitted his job was at a crossroads – like, move-in-with-your-girlfriend-or-break-up type of crossroads – after two years at the helm. He went 50-60 in three seasons (and a dismal 16-42 against Big 12 foes), not so much as even sniffing the tournament bubble during that span. Many speculated the only reason he was still in Lubbock was because the school’s AD position was vacant for most of the season. But once the school hired Kirby Holcott from Miami late last month, it’s likely that the first action item on the agenda was to can Knight and commence a search for a suitable replacement, although it’s noteworthy that university president Guy Bailey, and not Holcott, officially let Knight go.
While I can’t quite muster up a compelling argument promoting how glamorous the Texas Tech Red Raiders head basketball coaching job is, Billy Gillispie is already being rumored as the school’s leading candidate. Gillispie was successful at Texas A&M and could drum up interest and revitalize the program next fall, with at least seven roster spots opening up.
So where will the ax fall next in the coaching ranks? Well, don’t look now, but something tells me NC State might be hiring.
Nick Fasulo is the editor of the college basketball website Searching For Billy Edelin. Follow him on Twitter @billyedelin