Bloggers react to Tubby Smith
Hard to believe a coaching change could steal a large chunk of the spotlight from the Sweet 16, but that's what Tubby Smith has done. Whenever something significant happens to one of college basketball's elite it's big news, and combine that with him leaving for a program that has been irrelevant over the last 10 years and you have quite a story. I thought these four blogs summed up the reaction best:
Big Ten Wonk - In three seasons of doing this blog, no single piece of news has dropped my jaw so suddenly and so far as the news that Tubby Smith will be the next head coach at Minnesota. (The press conference is today at 1 ET.) Gopher AD Joel Maturi, last seen in this space bungling Dan Monson's dismissal in every conceivable way, is suddenly reaping the surprised and emphatic acclaim more traditionally associated with a commander-in-chief the morning after a spectacularly successful clandestine military strike.
Randball (Star Tribune) - With the formal introduction and press conference about two hours away, the thing we’re still struck by is how big-time this move is, particularly in a sports market — college and pro — that is often small-time or, at best, medium-time. We’ve been searching our brain for parallels to the hiring of Tubby Smith, at least in the past two decades, and in sports that you could consider “big-time” here, and we can only think of two: the Wild hiring Jacques Lemaire, a Stanley Cup winning coach; and the Gophers men’s hockey team hiring Don Lucia, a proven winner at Colorado College who got them over the hump. But both of those were different. The Wild was an expansion team with no baggage and a beautiful arena that was looking to make a splash; the Gophers are a national hockey powerhouse and should be able to attract a top-tier coach. But for the Gophers men’s basketball team, coming off a dismal year, to haul in a coach like Smith — you realize he’s been to the NCAA tournament 14 years in a row spanning three different teams and won an NCAA title, right? — and also to pay a top price for him? It’s not just bold. It has the potential to be a perception-changing move.
I Dislike Your Favorite Team - Welcome to Minnesota, where the obvious racial politics are never mentioned! It's impolite, you know. There will be questions about Tubby from the get-go, though. To my eye, at least, he seemed to have trouble recruiting quality players to Kentucky. Rajon Rondo was his best player who was not his own son in the past 7 years, and he was streaky at best. Tubby will enjoy a lot of the benefits when it comes to recruiting that he did in Kentucky--it's a major conference, it has Top 10 teams in the league, TV exposure, all the rest. It didn't help Dan Monson much, though. And let's face it--1994 Final Four run or no, Minnesota is no Kentucky.
Sports Frog - Tubby Smith just appeared on the Mike and Mike morning show, making his first comments as the new head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. In the interview, he was asked to sum up, in one sentence, why he left Kentucky. The response? A challenge. To be fair, restoring Minnesota to mediocrity probably will be a challenge. However, if what Tubby wanted was a challenge, there was no reason to clear out the office at Memorial Coliseum. The challenge was here, Tubby. There would be no greater challenge than restoring UK to where you found it. What's the saying in pottery stores? You broke it, you bought it, right? Tubby, you broke it, but you didn't even offer to fix it, let alone pay for it. Instead, you went to another pottery store and offered to fix something that you didn't break. A challenge? Please. You're a decent guy but don't play Kentucky fans like fools.