Since coach Tom Penders’ resignation Monday, the focus of Cougar fans and local sports writers has shifted to whom UH will hire to replace him. A popular pick among many people appears to be former Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie.
The University could certainly do much worse. Gillispie has proven himself a strong coach and recruiter during previous stops at Conference USA rival UTEP, Texas A&M and of course with the Wildcats.
UH Athletic Director Mack Rhoades worked with Gillispie at UTEP and did not rule out the possibility of his hiring at Monday’s news conference. However, several off-court issues — including multiple citations for driving under the influence — have athletic directors across the nation exercising caution.
Rhoades has already acknowledged the challenge posed by recruiting the school’s next basketball coach.
Hofheinz Pavilion and the basketball facilities are abysmal. In an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz before the NCAA tournament, Penders said the locker room showers had only recently been restored to operate properly. Issues such as this could make for a very tough sell.
Additionally, all UH sports suffer from poor attendance. The basketball team especially finds itself staring at a lot of empty red seats during almost every home game.
Winning hasn’t seemed to solve that problem, either.
These factors make Gillispie an appealing candidate. A coach in need of a second chance has less room to be picky.
Nevertheless, this much is clear: the next coach to roam the sidelines of Guy V. Lewis Court must be a proven winner, a strong recruiter and an attendance booster. With these qualifications in mind, there is one coach Rhoades must call if he has not already — Bob Knight.
Knight is available and has never dismissed the possibility of a return to coaching. He brings talent, money and national exposure.
The likelihood of luring Knight to UH is probably not very high; getting Gillispie, or Knight-disciple Bob Marlin of Sam Houston State, seems more feasible.
But it’s at least worth it for Rhoades to put in a phone call and enquire. There is no better time for basketball miracles than March.
Derek Goodwin is a history and political science senior and may be reached at email@example.com