Hiring Billy Gillispie a good move for Texas Tech — and the coach

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Texas Tech made the first college basketball coaching hire of the offseason and was smart enough to let the news leak on Sunday, but won’t officially introduce Billy Gillispie as its new coach until Wednesday.

Why let the NCAA tournament overshadow a solid coaching hire for the school? Smart.

Gillispie, two years after being fired by Kentucky, returns to the state of Texas where he can do what he does best: Rebuild a sagging program.

He did just that at UTEP, taking the Miners from 6-24 to a share of the WAC title and a spot in the Big Dance. Gillispie then revamped a Texas A&M squad that had been 0-16 in Big 12 play and led them to three 20-win seasons and a spot in the Sweet 16 in 2007. By replacing Pat Knight, he’ll get a chance to do the same yet again in Texas.

It’s a good move by the school and a good move for Gillispie.

There are some concerns, but they’re related to his off-court behavior. Gillispie’s been arrested three times for driving while under the influence, but he maintains he’s straightened up any personal issues in the last two years.

Not that school officials are too worried.

“I am absolutely confident that he will lead our basketball program back to the national spotlight while positively representing our university,” new athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement. “There are exciting years ahead for Red Raider basketball.”

Gillispie is 140-85 in seven seasons as a D-I coach..

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