There’s been both outrage and defense of Tubby Smith’s firing at Minnesota. You can find outrage anywhere you look, so I won’t waste time with that. For a reasoned defense, you can hardly do better than this article, which makes a fair case that Smith’s demise was caused essentially by the same things that led to his unpopularity at Kentucky – recruiting and fundraising.
Same old story, it seems, but this is an aside to the point of this article. I dashed this off on the way out the door to my dentist appointment to deal with how Smith was fired, not why.
Tubby Smith and his staff had no idea they were about to be fired Monday morning as they sat in a staff meeting at 10 a.m. going over recruiting, offseason workout plans and evaluations of the Gophers’ loss to Florida the previous day. Members of the Minnesota staff said they were sitting in the meeting when they started receiving text messages from coaching colleagues telling them they had been fired. Smith told them that he had to meet with the administration at 1 p.m. It was then, according to the staff, that Smith and ultimately the staff found out they had been fired. Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague obviously has the right to fire Smith and the staff. But he should have handled this differently.
Katz goes on to point out that a similar communications breakdown happened at Virginia Tech in Seth Greenberg’s firing, where he was unaware that a press conference had been scheduled and the decision made until shortly before the event.
This is the sort of snafu that outrages the public and can cripple the reputation of a university. It is an egregious failure of professionalism on the part of Minnesota Athletics Director Norwood Teague. At minimum, Teague should issue an apology to Smith and his staff for this misstep.
Firings like this need to be handled with grace and sensitivity, not boorishness. We look to places like universities to show us (and more importantly, our children) the right way to act and think, not for examples of professional blundering. Note that I am applying Hanlon’s Razor and assuming this was not a calculated act of malice on Teague’s part, but rather simple stupidity.
No matter what one thinks of Smith as a coach, this was unacceptable.