Thursday, March 22, 2007

On Tubby Smith's departure

Reports are swirling this afternoon that Tubby Smith will be leaving the University of Kentucky to become the new basketball coach at the University of Minnesota.

If true, this news saddens us.

Tubby Smith, although a Maryland native, exemplified everything that is good about the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He was accomplished, humble, talented and intelligent. He represented this state with dignity and class in everything he did, on and off the court. He won basketball games, and he did so the right way. He made his players go to class, there were no NCAA violations, and when there were off-the-court problems, he dealt with them.

Even though his record has been one of the best in the nation during his tenure at UK, it still wasn't good enough. Smith never had a losing season, never failed to win 20 games or get an NCAA bid, recorded a national championship and an undefeated conference season and won National Coach of the Year three times while in Lexington, and this year had his team in the top 10 percent of all of college basketball (judging from the Wildcats being one of the top 32 teams in the NCAA tournament out of more than 330 possible participants in Division I basketball). Yet because the team failed to win the conference division championship for two years straight and lost more than 10 games, it wasn't enough for the unrealistic expectations of most UK fans.

Quite honestly, Tubby Smith deserved better from Kentucky and UK fans. And again quite honestly, we are not sure that with the way fans have acted, that the state and the university deserved Tubby Smith. Smith was concerned with the University of Kentucky and not with himself, unlike his predecessor. Rick Pitino worried about Rick Pitino, first and foremost. Tubby Smith was concerned about the school and the state he represented.

Tubby will be a hard act to follow. It will be interesting to see what will happen to his successor if he doesn't meet the lofty expectations of the most rabid and vocal Cat fans.

This state is a better place for Tubby Smith having spent time here. Godspeed and God bless to Tubby and Donna as they depart. We are proud to have had you with us these past few years.

1 Comments:

At 8:20 AM, March 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tubby is a class act. But, please, don't try to tell us his record at UK earned him the right to continue as the head coach. He lost 25 games the last 2 years. He lost 10+ games in 5 out of 10 years. He set the record for the longest stretch in UK/NCAA history for not appearing in the Final 4. He lost the last 6 games to Florida and the last 4 to Vandy. He did not beat a ranked team all year. Only one last year. He has not beaten a team seeded higher than 5 in the tournament since '98. His recruiting has been dismal.

While I admire Tubby as a person, the job of steering the UK Basketball program requires more. He simply could not handle it.

 

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