Former Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson wants to coach again.A loyal Wichita State fan, and a loyal Gene Stephenson fan, e-mailed me the resume of Mike Gillespie, the coach at Cal Irvine.
Stephenson might want to give him a call.
Gillespie coached Southern Cal from 1987-2006. He “retired” shortly after Wichita State swept the Trojans in a three-game series at Eck Stadium near the end of the 2006 season. While the Trojans played in a super regional in 2005, they missed out on NCAA play in three of his final four seasons.
Gillespie took a season off and took over at Cal Irvine (one year removed from beating WSU in the 2007 super regional) in 2008. He got Irvine back to a super regional that season, and again in 2011. The Anteaters posted winning seasons in 2012 and 2013, but didn’t make a regional. In six seasons, Gillespie is 233-119 with four NCAA trips.
Not too bad for a guy Southern Cal didn’t want. The Trojans are on their third coach since pushing Gillespie out and have yet to return to an NCAA regional.
The Beatles didn’t last. One Direction can’t go on forever. Even Bruce Springsteen needed time away from the air-conditioner-shaking, history-making, legendary E Street Band. Stephenson, 67, says he wants to coach again. Maybe getting out of WSU and finding one or two new assistants coaches to work with will provide a good change. Maybe it energizes him and he finds the right place and the right people to work with and revives his hall-of-fame career.
It won’t be easy. He will most likely take a step back in prestige and salary. Not every school wants to take on a 67-year-old with big ideas and high standards. He must convince somebody he still has the energy and want-to to ride buses, recruit and deal with players. Gillespie proved it’s possible.