Former Kentucky Wildcats Coach Tubby Smith Fired At Minnesota

Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

Tubby Smith was fired as head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers today.

Seems that the only ex-Kentucky coach getting any love these days is the guy that traded Blue and White for Red and Black, with a little green in-between.

So today, Tubby Smith got the ax at Minnesota, presumably for … perennial underperformance. Here’s Rodger Sherman of SB Nation:

At Kentucky, Tubby Smith won the NCAA Tournament in his first season. He would go to the Elite Eight three times with the Wildcats and make the NCAA Tournament every single year he coached in Lexington, never losing a first round game. But he was fired in 2007. His successor, Billy Gillispie, went to one NCAA Tournament in his two years at the helm, Gillispie’s successor, John Calipari, has received massive acclaim for his national championship and his recruiting prowess, but ended up losing in the first round of the NIT in his third year on the job. Despite having a higher bar for a worst season than either of the two guys to take the job after him, Smith was victimized for supposedly performing poorly at a place where he won a national title. [My emphasis]

What is it about the fact that Smith was not fired at Kentucky is so hard for people to remember correctly? Poor Rodger has a ton of company with his selective (or defective, whatever) memory here. For some reason, non-Kentucky writers see the fact of the fan frustration with Smith while in his later years at Kentucky as producing a firing. It did not. Smith found the job at Minnesota, was hired there and then resigned at UK to take the Minnesota job. That is a fact.

I also find this curious:

Smith was fired Monday, once again accused of underperforming at a school where he raised the bar.

Smith didn’t raise the bar at Kentucky, if that's what he meant. Let’s just get that straight. There is no exposition for this fact necessary.

I totally agree with Rodger that his firing was questionable at a school like Minnesota, though -- they are hardly a blue-blood program, unless you are talking about their outstanding college hockey teams. Unfortunately, and this was also the case at Kentucky, a new athletics director can put a lot of pressure on a coach to perform immediately. Smith had a fine relationship with Joel Maturi, but was apparently unable to impress newly-minted Athletics Director Norwood Teague.

To be fair to Teague, there has been a lot of pressure building on Smith. Just like at Kentucky, there was a bit of a fan uprising, or at least a significant amount of fan dissatisfaction. That was especially true after the mid-season swoon Minnesota experienced in Big Ten play this year.

I had thought perhaps Smith would retire after this season, but apparently that’s not the case. I don’t know who the Gophers will wind up with coaching next year, but I rather doubt it will be either Shaka Smart or Brad Stephens.

I am sorry to hear that Smith got fired, doubly so because I don’t think he deserved it. That’s irrelevant, though. I wish him well, whatever he decides to do next.

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