Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self's good buddy, Billy Gillispie, continued his rapid climb in the coaching profession Friday by being named head coach at Kentucky.
Gillispie, 47, was an assistant on Self's staffs at both Tulsa and Illinois prior to head-coaching stints at UTEP (two years) and Texas A&M (three).
He agreed to a seven-year contract worth $2.3 million a year, with another $850,000 in incentives available.
"I am personally very happy for Billy," Self said Friday from the recruiting trail. "I know it was a tough decision because he had a great stay at Texas A&M. Obviously, he felt this was a chance of a lifetime to go to Kentucky.
"I think the people in Kentucky are getting a great coach, a great person, a tireless worker, and they will enjoy watching his style of play."
¢ Ouch: Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice had some harsh things to say about Gillispie in his Friday column.
"His monstrous ego wasn't going to be satisfied in Aggieland," Justice wrote. "He wanted more. He has been that way his entire coaching career. Ask some of the people who coached with and against him along the way. Billy Clyde never lacked ambition. Ambition isn't a bad thing, but it can be consuming and alter one's sense of reality. Billy Clyde wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Coach K or Roy Williams, and he's determined to get there no matter how many times he has to break his word.
"His word means nothing. He's a liar in the worst sense of the word. He will come up with some reason for leaving Texas A&M, but the bottom line is he gave his word that he would stay when he probably never had any intention of staying. ...
"Gillispie will attempt to find whatever he's looking for in Kentucky. He won't find it. He'll never find it. The Aggies shouldn't sweat his leaving. He's not worth it."
The full column is available at www.chron.com.
¢ Coach Jank busy: Former KU assistant Tim Jankovich, who was named head coach at Illinois State on March 20, told the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph newspaper he hasn't had time to catch his breath.
"It's reality, but it feels a little surreal because your life is moving at a certain pace and all of a sudden somebody flipped a switch and shot a whole bunch of volts of electricity and then it's fast forward," Jankovich said.
"You're in a different place and world with a million responsibilities that three weeks ago never crossed your mind. It's an amazing feeling."
Jankovich told the Pantagraph he's spoken with former Illinois State and NBA great Doug Collins, but hasn't been able to visit with many Redbird boosters yet.
"I want to do this and I will do this, but right now I have to stay locked in the cave and just grind out the things we need to do," he said. "Hopefully by mid-May or June I'll be able to do this (meet people). I hate it has to wait, but I have to do this right away."