When the LSU job opened up a week ago, one of the first names mentioned was that of former Kentucky and current Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith. Smith has, in fact, been mentioned for just about every big-program job that has come along over the past three years, whether the jump makes sense or not. I wondered why, and since I can’t crawl inside Tubby’s pate, I did the next best thing. I asked Jonathan Foster from the Gopher-centric blog From the Barn. Here’s how our conversation went:
STF: Why is Tubby Smith ALWAYS mentioned for every BCS-level job that comes along, in your opinion?
Jonathan Foster: I think there are two factors at work here. The first is that Tubby Smith left Kentucky under his volition (though some would argue that the writing was on the wall so to speak). It seems, according to the conventional wisdom, that any one who would leave Kentucky, the greatest job in college basketball (unless you don’t like dealing with rabid fans, sky high expectations, any innumerable other issues that don’t make it the great job in college basketball) would be a candidate to leave whatever job they are currently holding.
The second factor: Tubby came to Minnesota. The assumption by those connecting Tubby Smith to every job every where is that Tubby couldn’t possibly want to be at Minnesota. He was at Kentucky after all, so of course he wants any job that isn’t Minnesota.
He is linked to all these jobs because no one outside of Minnesota could fathom that a former Kentucky coach could actually be happy in Minnesota. Sometimes it snows in April, as Prince sang.
Do you think he’s being used to generate buzz in some cases?
I wouldn’t be surprised if other programs are using Tubby to generate buzz. They know that Tubby is a big name coach, and they know that the perception exists that Tubby Smith wants out. So why not leak his name when it comes to potential coaching candidates? The athletic director doing the hiring can at least claim he went after a big name, which tends to appease the masses that think their program deserves a big name coach.
I’ve learned two rules for Tubby rumors. They are implausible if:
1. He is being linked to more than one school at a time.
2. The other candidates for the job don’t have similar credentials or experience.
The LSU rumors were the latter type.
Personality-wise, Tubby also seems to be sort of uncontroversial. I can’t imagine anyone hearing him connected with their program and going “Oh hell no.”