He walked in smiling and started the news conference off with a joke. Billy Gillispie even wore a blue polo as he addressed a handful of reporters, television cameras and even fans that filled a tent at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort & Golf Club on Newtown Pike.
And even being fired as the head coach of the UKâ€™s menâ€™s basketball team a day before, Billy Gillispie thinks himself to be the luckiest man in the world.
â€œIâ€™m not a woe-is-me person,â€ Gillispie said. â€œIâ€™m the luckiest guy that has ever lived. Thereâ€™s no one that has been more lucky than me, more blessed than me. There just hasnâ€™t.â€
Gillispie considers himself the luckiest man because he has coached at three universitiesâ€”Texas El-Paso, Texas A&M and UKâ€”when 16 years ago he was a high school coach.
However, Gillispie considered himself the lucky to be in Lexington, where it combined his two favorite lovesâ€”basketball and horse racing.
But the love wouldnâ€™t last as Gillispie was dismissed from his position on Friday. However, he has no hard feelings toward the university or UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart about his dismissal.
â€œâ€œWhat do I like about Mitch? I like a lot of things about Mitch,â€ Gillispie said with a grin. â€œWeâ€™ll talk at a later time in detail, but I do. Iâ€™m telling you, I harbor no ill feelings toward anyone. Life is way too short to carry around grudges and say bad things about people. Thereâ€™s no use in that.â€
While he has no hard feelings, Gillispie also said he is ready to move on and find another coaching job. One that hopefully begins before next season. However, heâ€™ll always be tied to UK due to his contract agreement.
He said his interpretation of the memorandum of understanding is that itâ€™s a binding contract, and should be paid the entire $6 million buyout mentioned in the document. While Barnhart and UK President Lee Todd said they expect to pay lower, Gillispie said he would let his lawyers take care of everything.
He also addressed the comments by Todd and Barnhart about the UK head coach being a celebrity position.
â€œI donâ€™t think a celebrity is what you declare yourself to be,â€ Gillispie said. â€œI think being a celebrity is what someone else declares you to be. In that position, I think I never declined to sign a ball or sign an autograph, and I probably was out and about more than anybody, because nobodyâ€™s at home to cook for me, and I eat out almost every single night.â€
One of the situations that made Gillispie a celebrity this year was his famous run-ins with ESPN reporter Jeannine Edwards. It started on Jan. 27 at Mississippi when Edwards asked Gillispie about Jodie Meeks having only six points at halftime. Gillispie fired back saying â€œthat was a bad question.â€
â€œI always protect my team,â€ Gillispie said. â€œWe were 5-0 in conference and winning on the road. We werenâ€™t a one-man team. Iâ€™m just a straight shooting guy. But, me and Jeannine are friends and have been for a while. I called her the next day to talk and apologized if I hurt her feelings.â€