It appears that Tubby Smith did need a trip to the Sweet 16 to keep his job. His team lost in the round of 32, and now Tubby Smith has lost his job according to Jeff Goodman.
Coach Smith had one of the more successful tenures in program history, leading his teams to three NCAA tournaments, but never finishing with an above .500 record in the Big Ten (excluding the Big Ten tournament) and winning only one NCAA tournament game. This past season was the most successful of the Tubby Smith era, and also the most successful season that counted since 1990. However, that is as much an indictment of Smith as it is of the program. Failing to meet the early season gaudy expectations appears to have done him.
And now begins the coaching search, and let us hope it is a short one. The longer it lasts, the more trouble the program is in. If this was a spur of the moment decision without an already identified new coach, we may well regret this day and long for mediocre teams and NCAA tournament appearances. If this is handled well, today could be the first day of a renaissance. Only time will tell.
We’ve already discussed two batches of candidates, those with local ties and current assistant coaches. We’ll start looking at current head coaches tonight and throughout the next few days, unless Norwood Teague beats us to the punch. Let’s hope he does.
And while he didn’t achieve the success we hoped for, Tubby Smith left the program in a better place than he found it. He didn’t transform the program, but at least laid the ground work for a successful transition. For that we should be thankful.