Tubby Smith replaces Josh Pastner at Memphis
The University of Memphis lost their coach last Friday when Josh Pastner was announced as the new head coach at Georgia Tech. They filled that vacancy today by hiring Big 12, and Sporting News National Coach of the Year, Tubby Smith.
Tubby Smith has won eight National Coach of the Year honors, including the consensus National Coach of the Year in 2003. He has won multiple Coach of the Year honors in the Missouri Valley Conference and the SEC. His overall record as a Division I men’s basketball coach is 557-276. He won the National Championship in 1998 with the Kentucky Wildcats. He made 18 of the last 23 NCAA Tournaments.
This year, his Texas Tech Red Raiders were predicted to finish around 10th in the Big 12. They finished 7th with a 9-9 conference record. By the way, the Big 12 was the #1 rated RPI conference. The American Athletic Conference was the #8 rated RPI conference this year. Memphis finished 7th with a conference record of 8-10.
The Red Raiders also danced in March, earning a #8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They were eliminated by Butler in the first round.
The thing is, no one expected them to be there. Not only did they exceed expectations, and make the NCAA Tournament, They played in the toughest conference in the land. They beat three straight ranked teams this year, including #3 Oklahoma, who made it all the way to the Final Four. They finished 19-13 while playing the sixth toughest schedule in the country.
Tubby won five regular season titles, and five conference tournament titles in ten seasons at Kentucky.
He was also an assistant coach on the 2000 Olympic team that competed in Sydney.
He coached at Tulsa from 1991 to 1995, leading the Golden Hurricanes to two Sweet Sixteen appearances. He then moved on to Georgia where in two seasons he was 45-19. The accolades include being the school’s first black head coach. In his two seasons at Georgia, he also led them to back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time in school history. Once again, he made the Sweet Sixteen, while at Georgia.
He then moved residences in the SEC, from Georgia to Kentucky. While at Kentucky, he guided the Wildcats to six Sweet 16’s, four Elite Eight’s, and of course won it all in 1998. After ten seasons, the UK fan base got impatient with Smith and decided to move in a new direction. Tubby resigned and took the Minnesota job.
The year before Tubby arrived in Minnesota, the Gophers were 8-22. In his first season as head coach, he turned them into a 20 win team, going 20-14. In 2013, Minnesota decided a second round tournament loss to Florida was not good enough for Gopher basketball, and let Smith go. He was 124-81 as head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Smith was announced as the new Texas Tech Red Raiders coach on April 1st, 2013. Ironically, Smith replaced Billy Gillispie at Texas Tech after Gillispie replaced Smith at Kentucky in 2007. Gillispie is now athletic director, and men’s basketball coach at Ranger College in Texas. Tubby was 46-50 at Texas Tech but is coming off of his most successful season at the school, winning Big 12, and Sporting News National Coach of the Year honors.
In a statement to Sporting News, Bob Huggins said the following about Texas Tech hiring Tubby Smith…
I knew when I saw on the ticker that they hired Tubby Smith here that they wanted to win, because that guy is a winner, he does a great job of bench coaching. They recruit good players. They’ve got good players. That’s the problem with this league. There are too many good players on a team, and there’s too many good coaches sitting there. You know, you can’t outsmart anybody.
My take on the Tubby Smith hire…
I am starting to think some fans in Memphis are delusional. When the news broke that Tubby could very well be the man, a lot of Memphis fans responded with, why? He is 65 years-old. He hasn’t done anything since he was at Kentucky. We want Penny Hardaway.
Maybe Tubby wouldn’t have been your number one choice, but, schools rarely get their top choice when conducting a coaching search. You have your wish list of two or three guys, then you have a list of realistic hires.
Everyone liked Josh Pastner because he was a good guy. High character and kept the program clean. But, he had a hard time winning basketball games. With Tubby Smith you have all of those character traits Josh had, and you have a proven winner on the basketball court.
To the fans that say, well, he is 65 years-old and he hasn’t done anything since he was at Kentucky. I look no further than his most recent performance to answer both of those questions. He won Coach of the Year, in the top rated, toughest conference in the land last year, the Big 12.
The bottom line is if you are a Memphis Tiger basketball fan, you should be extremely happy with having Tubby Smith as your new coach. The University of Memphis just won more basketball games in the last week than anyone else in the country. This time last week, Josh Pastner was your head coach, now it is Tubby Smith.
I think it’s time to schedule a home-and-home series with Georgia Tech.
Brandon Reid covers NCAAB for MyFantasySportsTalk.com | Follow him on Twitter @New_Breid
He is from Memphis and graduated from Arkansas State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He loves the Memphis Tigers, Grizzlies, Titans, and Arkansas State Red Wolves.
“I promise to bring information, insight, and strong opinion. Let the debate begin.”
You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_Breid