Texas Tech is a tough job. Just ask Bob Knight. He's arguably the greatest coach in the history of college basketball, and he didn't even make the NCAA tournament in three of his seven seasons in Lubbock.
Tubby Smith is an accomplished basketball coach who has won more than 500 career games. He's a good man and a quality X's and O's guy, but he's not Knight. We can all agree on that.
Texas Tech is a grinder job, the most difficult in the entire Big 12. If you've ever been to Lubbock (which I have), it's brutal to get kids to come there, so you'd better outwork everyone else. Smith, again, is a very good basketball coach. He's proven that at Tulsa, Georgia and even early on in his tenure at Kentucky. But what Smith is not is a grinder. Maybe that was the case back in the day when he was in Athens in the mid 1990s, but that was nearly two decades ago -- and Smith had access to loads of high-level players within a couple hours of the Georgia campus. There's virtually no one within a four-hour drive of Lubbock.
Smith is 61 now. His staff has been criticized within coaching circles, and he's coming off a stint at Minnesota in which he won a single NCAA tourney contest in six seasons and only went to the big dance half of his tenure with the Gophers.
Texas Tech wanted to win the news conference. Congrats to Chancellor Kent Hance, new president Dr. Duane Nellis and athletic director Kirby Hocutt. You just hired a high-character individual, maybe the polar opposite of Billy Clyde Gillispie. There won't be any stories of mistreatment of players with Smith at the helm.
But the Red Raiders needed someone who could get players to Lubbock and Smith isn't known for his recruiting prowess. He had difficulty recruiting high-level talent to Kentucky. Yes, I know he got some players to Minnesota, but he didn't keep a bunch of them (i.e. Devoe Joseph, Royce White) and look at where the Gophers are now after losing Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams. It's Andre Hollins and not much else. This program is headed in the wrong direction and that's why athletic director Norwood Teague opted to make a move now. So it wouldn't turn into a major rebuilding effort.
Again, he's a wonderful man. But there's a reason why he was fired at Minnesota. The Gophers were mediocre. They never finished with a winning mark in any of his six seasons in the Big Ten. Smith left with a 46-62 record in the league, including a 20-34 mark in his final three seasons in the Big Ten.
Texas Tech is getting a good man. Tubby Smith will be introduced Tuesday at 2 p.m. local time and I'm pulling for him. I really am, but I just don't see this one working. Texas Tech has been to the NCAA tournament just four times in the past 17 seasons, all of them were with a guy named Bob Knight patrolling the sidelines in Lubbock. The program has won an NCAA tournament game just one time since 1976 with someone other than Knight at the helm.
Smith is a quality basketball coach, and a really, really nice man, but this wasn't the right fit. Not for Texas Tech and not for Tubby.