Gary Blair is about as eager as anyone to see where Texas Tech goes with its women’s basketball vacancy.
As the Texas A&M women’s coach put it, he expects to see either a “Kliff Kingsbury” or “Tubby Smith” kind of hire — in other words, a top-notch, young assistant ready for the big time, or a current head coach looking for a place to retire.
Kristy Curry resigned her position as Tech’s coach Saturday morning, leaving for Alabama.
Blair said former Lady Raider coach Marsha Sharp gave him a call after Curry resigned, asked if he had any interest and picked his brain about the opening.
The 67-year-old Tech alumnus made it very clear he was not offered the Tech job, and he plans to retire at A&M.
Blair said he imagines Sharp has called a half-dozen of her coaching friends to find out their opinion.
“That’s what friends are for,” Blair said in a phone interview. “It was definitely not a job offer — it was more or less, ‘Is there interest?’”
Blair is interested in the Tech program in different ways — he wants to see the Lady Raiders get back to the level they used to be.
He spoke highly of Curry, but he said the game has changed out in West Texas.
The shift of the top talent in the Lone Star State from West Texas to the Metroplex and Houston areas has made it harder for Tech to remain the power it was in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Blair said coaching searches are all about timing. At another time or place in his life, he would “have come running” back to Lubbock. He said Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt is fresh off two outstanding hires in Smith for men’s basketball and Kingsbury for football. He said he believes Smith will retire at Tech, and the only thing that would have made the Kingsbury hire better is if the 33-year-old coach brought Aggie Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel to Tech along with him.
However, he said it might be tough to find that perfect fit in the middle of May, but he was “honored” to be thought of.
“I’ll be 68 in August,” said Blair, who will be inducted into the women’s basketball Hall of Fame next month. “You need a younger version of Gary Blair or a younger version of Marsha Sharp. The job can get done again. What you need is a Sheryl Swoopes to come out of high school again out there, and you need a Krista Kirkland, and you might have the perfect storm.”
Blair said his five head-coaching stops — A&M, Arkansas, Stephen F. Austin and two high-school jobs — have all had that perfect timing.
He acknowledged that it is tough to follow a highly successful coach such as Sharp, and he had a message for some Tech fans to stop living in the past.
“Please tell all those bloggers to get off of their history books,” he said.
Blair will get to coach against Curry twice this upcoming season, he said, and he wishes her well.
He said he also hopes Tech fans will realize how good of a coach she was.
“You will not realize how good of a person you had right there — you had a damn good coach with her there,” Blair said. “Sometimes you’ve got to get the right players in there, and sometimes it’s the demographic — where you’re located. Tech will be back, just like they always are in every sport.”
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