So can we get on with it, already?
Geez, the more time it takes for Tubby Smith and Mitch Barnhart to have their little "Come to Jesus" meeting, the more weird the world gets. Anxiety in the Big Blue Nation is reaching the point to where metaphysics suggests that we will begin seeing some displacement of the time-space continuum. Want proof? Here it is: the Courier-Journal placed this article in their SEC-UK section of their on-line edition, and when you see that, can the apocalypse be far behind? [editor's note, by Truzenzuzex] If this has been moved before you read this, you have only yourself to blame, :-)
So what is happening in the Big Blue Underverse today? Well, lots of people are thinking Michigan -- Tubby Smith to Michigan, that is. Not only are they thinking it, but they are actually writing it down:
If I was Tubby Smith, I would want to take that phone call.
That's our favorite pizza pitch man, Dickie V., writing on ESPN in his happy little section.
But wait, there's more:
So can Tubby Smith live on the paltry salary he would likely get at a football school like UM? We may never know.
My opinion: At the start of the season I thought this was a non-issue, but as things developed during the season, I am now starting to think that it might be in the best interest of both Tubby and Kentucky if they go their separate ways. Tubby could become the next Izzo or Gary Williams at a place like Michigan or Tubby can give the NBA a shot because the last time Tubby coached NBA players (1998 Kentucky) he won the national title...
Interesting. Seems the "M" word is coming up more and more in sports punditdom -- will Tubby listen?
Rumor Mongerer: Yours truly, ESPN Radio -- Smith is name number one on the Maize n Brew wish list. At Kentucky, basketball is what football is to Michigan. Much like Lloyd, Tubby enjoyed some early success but has never been able to re-climb that Everest. Despite never winning fewer than 20 games, never missing the tournament, four Elite 8's, 6 conference championships, and a national championship, Smith appears to be on the hot seat after Kentucky was bounced early from the NCAA tournament. It's no secret that there's no love lost between Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart and Smith, and some Kentucky fans think Smith would be better suited for Ann Arbor than Lexington. Hell, some want him gone, period.
Smith is as good an X's and O's coach as there is in college basketball, an outstanding recruiter who's never had a whiff of NCAA trouble, and a solid dude. He recruits very well from the Detroit area and isn't afraid to get to ask for what he wants. Any deal that would bring him here would likely involve a guarantee of new practice facilities and a very large ($2-$3 million/year) contract.
Potential Impact: H-U-G-E. Big name, big money coach. Instant change in the balance of Big Ten power. Smith's the type of Coach that would bring in truckloads of donor cash and recruits Michigan to date can only dream about. He's, in my opinion, the best case scenario.
Chances: 30%. While the rumor mill is cranking up steam, there's nothing to indicate Smith wants out. He's repeatedly stated he's staying and that Kentucky is his home. The only thing that will bring him to Ann Arbor is him either being fired or him saying "Screw it, I don't need this crap".
Finally, a tidbit from the Lexington Herald-Leader, as it critiques the Tubby Smith call-in show last night:
When the caller finished the question, Smith noted how Kentucky came within a double-overtime loss in the region finals of reaching the Final Four two years ago.
On to the recruiting news, of which there is some ... well, not news, exactly but some commentary. Let's start again with the LHL talking about Kentucky signee AJ Stewart (link same as above):
"The A.D. told him Coach Smith will be there as long as you're playing," Stewart's coach, Rex Morgan, said.
Williams' high school coach, Mark Vincent, dismissed speculation of Smith not being at Kentucky next season.
"You forget I'm from Kentucky and I know Kentucky people," said Vincent, a native of Mulhenberg County. "To me, that's not speculation. That's just typical Kentucky fans."
A lot has changed in Wildcat country since Big Blue Madness, coach Vincent. Will the truth become a lie?
Mike DeCorcey of The Sporting News has an article on Patrick Patterson, including some first-hand reporting of the oft-rumored closeness of Tubby Smith with the Patterson family:
Hmmm. What a Catch-22 we are in here. Smith goes, Patterson goes. Smith stays, Patterson ... well, maybe he goes then, too, we just don't know. Also Matt Jones, as usual, has some recruiting info you should check out if you haven't.
Finally, The Kentucky Democrat weighs in with his support for Tubby Smith:
But would Tubby be crazy to take the money if it was offered and say, "Thanks for the memories" to this quixotic place?
I'm just askin' ...