Tubby Smith Out at Minnesota

March 25, 2013 at 3:33p    by Jason Priestas    
40 Comments

Tubby Smith has been fired ast Minnesota's men's basketball coach, reports the Star Tribune:

Tubby Smith has been fired as Gophers men’s basketball coach, U of M Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen confirmed Monday. Cohen said she received a phone call from U of M President Eric Kaler on Monday telling her of the news. The Gophers athletic office later put out a press release confirming the news.

Smith’s contract comes with a $2.5 million buyout — a number that jumped from $1.5 million after he signed an extension last summer shortly after Norwood Teague took over as Minnesota’s athletic director. He also gets $150,000 for making the round of 32 this year, a $250,000 retirement contribution and three months severance (base plus supplemental salary), which totals about $450,000. That’s a total of $3.35 million.

Though Smith had a losing Big Ten record at Minnesota, his overall record at the school was a not shabby 124-81 and his teams made three NCAA tournament appearances during his six seasons in Minneapolis. His Gophers picked up the school's first tournament win since 1990 – wins, including a Final Four run under former coach Clem Haskins are vacated – Friday night against UCLA.

In what turned out to be his final game with the Gophers, Smith had the audacity to coach his 11th-seeded team to a 78-64 loss to No. 3 Florida, a favorite to cut down the nets.

To fire Smith now would strongly seem to indicate that athletic director Norwood Teague feels he has a strong play on VCU's Shaka Smart, who worked for Teague when he was at VCU.


40 Comments

Comments

Ohio1St81's picture

Too bad, the conference just lost a great coach. As for his replacement, I didn't care for the way Smart continued to press and double team against Akron when they were up by 30. I'm interested to see where Ben Howland ends up, who ends up at UCLA, and what happens to Florida Gulf Coast's and La Salle's head coaches. 

FitzBuck's picture

So apparently the supermodel down the street likes the skinny nerd.  Everything we've ever seen in 80s date movies is valid after all.  
How else do you explain smart to Minnesota?
ok I guess any Prostitute analogy works as well  

Fitzbuck

Toledo - Ohio's right armpit 

"A troll by any other name is still a troll". 

 

BuckeyeChief's picture

Just not a fan of this move; no way they get Smart or Hoiberg imho; maybe Howland? Mike Jarvis? Who else is out there? FGCU's coach is probably not going to leave; for him it's not about the money.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

DetroitBuckeye's picture

I think they get Buzz Williams, just my two cents.

 
SaltyD0gg's picture

Let's see, if I'm Shaka, do I go to UCLA or Minny...?

Pain of Discipline
Pain of Regret
Take Your Pick

BuckeyeChief's picture

Is Minny a step up, and UCLA is a nightmare; it is a no-win situation in UCLA.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

DetroitBuckeye's picture

It's a graveyard but so is any elite basketball/football school.  You could say the same thing about TOSU.

 
 
AndyVance's picture

No, actually I don't think you can say that anymore:

  • In terms of football, Ohio State has had five (not counting interims) head coaches since 1951, with Urban Meyer's predecessors serving an average of 14.25 years at the helm. While all have been fired or allowed to resign, you could argue that only Bruce and Cooper were fired due to performance on the field. Tressel's dominance over his decade cemented Ohio State's reputation as a "destination school."
  • Similarly, looking at basketball Ohio State has had only six head coaches since Fred Taylor's hiring in 1959, with an average tenure of 8.8 years (not counting Matta, currently in his 9th season as head coach).
  • Looking at the basketball coaches specifically, Taylor left of his own accord, Miller resigned citing a "lack of community support," Williams took a job at Maryland where he spent 22 years, and Ayres and O'Brien each seemed to do a little bit better than did their predecessors, leading to Matta's hiring and return to the type of glory seen during the Taylor era.

So in other words, the school has only cycled through eleven head coaches at its two marquee revenue sports in more than half a century, and only half of those saw their performance at Ohio State effectively tombstone their careers.

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

Much as I admire your posts andyvance, I feel compelled to correct one item in this one.  Though Fred Taylor did resign, he was forced to by Earl Weaver, the athletic director.  He was also asked to work out his contract in the intramural sports department, which he did, and which is where I met and grew to admire him as a man as much as I had as a basketball coach.  He was funny, cynical, and could not wait until his contract ended and he could begin his job at the then brand new Columbus Country Club.  During his stint in the intramural department, he had some interesting visitors, most notably Bobby Knight, John Havlicek, and Jerry Lucas, all of whom were fodder for a wide-eyed 21-year-old's name dropping. 

AndyVance's picture

Thanks for the clarification - as I recall the story, Taylor lost his gusto for the game after the infamous Minnesota-led brawl.

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

He did in fact despise that incident and engaged in frequent excoriation of Bill Musselman, the Minnesota coach at the time.  What really induced him to go quietly into that good night, though, was his perception that basketball had become a sport with no connection to academics.  He refused to recruit a player who was not serious about school, and lost several high profile recruits as a result (Eddie Ratleff and Dwight Lamar of Columbus East being two of the most prominent examples).  He was used to star players who also starred in the classroom, and believed that the two were inseparable. 

AndyVance's picture

I've read those types of commentaries in the past, too - thank you for sharing your experience. It makes me think that he would love guys like Aaron Craft; I think what you describe is what makes guys from that era - Lucas comes to mind - seem so different from the Marshall Hendersons of today's game.

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

Amen, sir.  Hopefully, Henderson will disappear into the mists and mosses of Mississippi.  Permanently.

TheSweaterVest's picture

Funny that you feel compelled to correct but confuse the former AD with the late Orioles manager.  Except for Kelvin Ransey, Fred's last couple of teams were intramural level, so he probably felt right at home working with you.  I don't think Minnesota fans will be satisfied with the equivalent of Eldon Miller, even if Ed Weaver was.

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

Correction accepted.  Wardell Jackson wan't bad, but you are largely correct.  Fred never did feel at home working with me and the rest of the ragtag intramural student entourage, but he made the best of a difficult situation.  Minnesota fans have always had to be content with the equivalent of Eldon Miller, at least as it pertains to results.  Kelvin Ransey was a badass with a 'fro for the ages.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

Yes but that is because we have been successful, if our coaches start losing and don't live up to that standard they are gone instantly.  Destination schools and graveyards for coaches imo are the same thing, only that schools that are graveyards for coaches are just down schools at the moment.  I was just talking about football as it pertains to Ohio State because we just aren't a destination school for basketball.  For instance look at Alabama prior to Saban, they had three coaches in a ten year stretch and that isn't even counting the Mike Price debacle.  Nothing at Alabama changed they were just successful so the coaches remained.  That is exactly my point with UCLA, there isn't anything wrong with ucla at all.  It is as much of a destination job as anyone could ever want.

 
AndyVance's picture

I get what you're saying, but I don't think it applies to Ohio State... Eldon Miller coached for 9 years, Williams left after three to take the gig at Maryland, Ayers was here for 8 years and O'Brien was forced out after 7... I don't think that fits the description of being "gone instantly."
You could argue that O'Brien was pushed out so quickly during his NCAA debacle because he wasn't meeting expectations, but that wasn't the stated reason for his ouster.
By comparison, Wooden's two immediate successors at UCLA left (of their own volition) after two successful seasons each, arguably to take lesser jobs, and the program has sort of gone downhill from there. Here's the breakdown post-Wooden:

  1. Gene Bartow: two seasons
  2. Gary Cunningham: two seasons
  3. Larry Brown: two seasons
  4. Larry Farmer: three seasons
  5. Wal Hazzard: four seasons
  6. Jim Harrick: eight seasons
  7. Steve Lavin: seven seasons
  8. Ben Howland: ten seasons

So, in the time it took Ohio State to go through four coaches (not counting Matta, since he's still employed), UCLA has gone through twice as many. While OSU's coaches made it more than 8 years, on average, UCLA coaches averaged only 4.75 years on the job...
The other thing that marks UCLA as a "graveyard" is that while OSU was steadily improving from its low-points in the latter years of the Taylor era and following his departure, the most storied program in the conference has won the PAC-12 title only 13 times since 1975, something that obviously hasn't set well with the Bruins brass.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

I should of had been more clear about this Andy, I was comparing it to buckeye football not basketball.  I think if we had 13 conference titles in football since 1975 that we would be firing coaches every other year too, that's my only point.

 
BuckeyeChief's picture

I agree it is a destination job, but it is also a pressure cooker...no matter how well you do it is never enough.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Very real possibility the news that Smart has already accepted the Gopher job is imminent. Why else would they quickly ditch a good coach who gave them 3 tourney appearances and willfully fork out $3.35M in the buyout? Minnesota's entire football staff combined doesn't make $3.35M does it?
The better question is...why Minnesota? He won't recruit the kind of players he gets at VCU if he takes that job. There's going to be turnover attrition and adjustment not to mention he's entering the toughest conference in the country. I'd have expected Smart to wait until a primo job opened up like when Boeheim or even Coach K retires.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

BuckNation's picture

Minnesota over UCLA? I may be wrong but I just don't see it with the tradition and recruiting base UCLA has. For Smart that is a premier program that will probably be calling right now...

popeurban's picture

Why Minnesota
Smart is from Madison WI, he likes the Midwest.  He will own the state of MN which actually produces some great DI talents thanks to Minneapolis- St. Paul and he worked for MN's AD whom he stayed at VCU for until the AD bolted to MN.
 

BuckNation's picture

I would agree with that but he also turned down Illinois last year which is just a few hours down the road from Madison and is located in Chicago a huge basketball recruiting hotbed. He will also have to compete with the rest of the BIG Ten each yeah, and Minnesota has some of the worst basketball facilities in the conference (nothing against the Barn but they don't have another practice facility). UCLA is already at the top of the PAC 12 and should be able to pretty much dominate the southwest as far as basketball recruiting.

droessl's picture

University of Illinois is not in Chicago. It's in Champaign.  #gettingcaughtupindetails #kerrycoombshashtagstyle

BuckNation's picture

You are correct Illinois is not in Chicago. I should have said Chicago is a basketball hotbed in Illinois. Good catch.

popeurban's picture

He has a great relationship with the AD, otherwise I think he would have left for Ill last year.  UCLA would be a great job if they did not fire coaches who make final fours.  I know Howland had other issues, but don't think coaches don't think about these things, they know which ADs are good to work with and which are not. 

brandonbauer87's picture

Maybe they're gonna give Bobby Valentine a shot. Everyone else has. 

Earle's picture

Paging Larry Brown...

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

BuckeyeChief's picture

You get an upvote + a LMAO for that; the real question is: Does he come with a fake mustache or not?

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

Earle's picture

I have always wondered how things would have turned out if Ohio State had hired Mason instead of Tressel.  I was excited about the Tressel hire, but Mason seemed to many to be the logical choice at the time.  He certainly did not have great success at Minny, but really, who could have?

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

Jonnferrell's picture

Mason did more than anyone has done at Minnesota for a long time before and since.  He would have been a good OSU coach and he wanted it badly.  Most people didn't know much about Tressel, but he turned out to be the right guy at the right time.  Pretty lousy timing, coming on the end of a foray into the second round of the NCAA.  I think Minnesota made a mistake--but obviously they think they can do better.  Time will tell.

"I'm still hungry." --Brady Hoke

Doc's picture

That sucks. I always liked Tubby, he is a class act. Minny is now going to be  more irrelevant than normal.

"Say my name."

gravey's picture

Minnesota has an outsized sense of their own potential....in all but hockey they're going to have trouble.
 

MN Buckeye's picture

Sorry to disagree with you, Gravey, but MN sports do not have an outsized sense of their own potential.  There is a sense of being hopeful for winning but being resigned to losing.  Tubby has been a good coach, but the previous AD (Joel Maturi) was not a great sports leader and certainly not a visionary and, in my mind, did nothing to create a culture that would support winning.  Remember, he was the one who hired Tim Brewster, a complete disaster as fb coach.  

MN Buckeye's picture

Norwood Teague will undoubtedly make a play for Smart, but I seriously doubt that UMN can compete economically with the other big-name programs, including UCLA.

FitzBuck's picture

Well if they fail to grab a big name it's your classic "guy has pretty and smart girlfriend but the 10 down the street has shown some interest so they think they have a shot at dating her. Little do they know that 10 felt bad for them and just wanted to be their friend."

You should have married her minnesota your rebound girl is going to be f+€¥ing ugly.

Fitzbuck

Toledo - Ohio's right armpit 

"A troll by any other name is still a troll". 

 

Bucks43201's picture

Minnesota powers-that-be continue their goofy behavior.
They recently added an unrepentant terrorist (Bill Ayers) to their faculty.
I thought firing Mason was an emotional, knee-jerk reaction. They didn't learn their lesson. I don't think 'sota will find a better coach than Smith.
They have a ceiling. I give them credit for wanting to break through it...but they're going about it the wrong way.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Haybucks's picture

Tubby is a big name coach who brought in better talent than the Minnesota brand could ever hope to equal.  He'll be missed by those who cast him off. From what I've seen on BTN's Journey, the team embraced Tubby. Good luck filling his shoes you all-knowing, great and powerful BOR's.  How's that climb to the next level in football working out for you?
 

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

cajunbuckeye's picture

I've heard that animals (gophers) will sometimes chew their own leg (Tubby) off to get free from a snare. Aaaaand, then they bleed out and die.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Bucks43201's picture

Well if the rumors are true that they've got Shaka Smart...wow, it's shaka-ing news.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes