GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Tubby Smith was standing in a hallway Wednesday afternoon, waiting to be escorted to the media room for an interview session when he was approached by a reporter here covering Radford.
The man introduced himself.
Smith said hello.
And then the inevitable happened.
"They sure would like to have you at Virginia," the man said, and Smith just laughed.
"What?" Smith said with a smile. "Don't you start that stuff."
Of course, it had already started ... on message boards, radio stations and among industry sources. Such is life for Orlando 'Tubby' Smith, the Minnesota coach who has made 15 of the past 16 NCAA tournaments at four different schools.
If you're not up to date on your coaching rumors, what you should know is that Smith's name has been mentioned (in various places, some legitimate, others not so much) in connection with the current openings at Virginia, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia. By all accounts, he'll have options outside of Minnesota when this season is complete. So it wasn't surprising when Smith was asked about the difficulty of dealing with speculation about his future while trying to coach in the NCAA tournament.
"It certainly is flattering sometimes, but it can be a distraction," Smith said. "... It's good to be wanted, but it's more important to be needed. I feel like I'm not only wanted in Minnesota, but needed there as well."
Also worth noting: Smith was asked how he felt about Kentucky missing the NCAA tournament. For some coaches, this would've been an opportunity to take a jab at the fan base that was so harsh it moved him to leave UK after 10 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. But Smith isn't one of those coaches, so he simply described himself as "disappointed" and explained how he wants Kentucky "to do well."
It was a classy move.
Way classier than most would've been.