As I’m sure everyone has heard, Tubby Smith was officially fired today. We’ve been expecting it, and it happened swiftly and with no regard to what city I was stuck in (hint: it wasn’t Minneapolis).
Nonetheless, the Star Tribune crew worked tirelessly to sort through it all and get as much information to you as possible. Lots to read:
*My story on Smith’s demise: What happened, why did it happen and how much did it cost the university?
*Also my story on reactions (Trevor Mbakwe, Tom Izzo) to Smith being shown the door.
*Column from our Dennis Brackin with more on the move.
*Column from our Chip Scoggins: It was time to pull the plug on Smith.
*Column from Pat Reusse: Gopher still trying to find the right guy.
*From Sid Harman: The way Smith found out was sad.
*Video: What’s next for Minnesota?
*Chart: Who are the candidates?
There will be plenty more to come – and I’ll do a mailbag in the coming days to answer a portion of the approximately 3,765 questions that were sent to me via Twitter – but for now, I will leave you with a few interesting quotes that I garnered:
Immediate reaction: “I had heard the speculation and everything, especially the way we ended up the season, but once we won our first game, I thought it would give him a little more time … but I guess they had their mind made up that they wanted to go in a new direction.”
On hearing the whispers as the team went into the NCAA tournament: “We have Twitter, we have social networks, so we hear it, especially going to the NCAA tournament you’d hear coach Howland vs. Tubby. Whoever loses that game is going to get fired. You hear things like that, but you don’t put too much into it because you want to focus on the game.”
On the end of the season and playing for Smith’s job: “We still wanted to play hard. We didn’t give up on him and he didn’t up on us. But it was tough. It was just unfortunate … Obviously, we want to play for our coach and we feel bad because his career was in our hands, we controlled it. We let him down and I guess we [allowed] him to get fired.”
On Smith’s old-school approach and how it turned off some players: “All in all, players felt the same way. I was fine with it, but some players, they grow up in different situations where they used to be the star and the coach wouldn’t be that hard on them. That’s the way coach was and unfortunately, it doesn’t work all the time for everybody.”
On Smith changing over time and trying to find the right coaching balance when it came to relationships: “He’s changed his principles so much over the last few years to try to adapt to the personnel he’s had and stuff like that … When I first got here, he was able to be more aggressive … We had six am practices every day and things like that, and over the years, he’s changed more toward players because he knew that our personnel wasn’t the same and some guys deal with situations different than others. So he wasn’t able to be how he wanted to be all the time.”
Immediate reaction: “I’m saddened by it … I’m saddened for our profession right now. I’m sad for the kids that aren’t going to get to have him … The places he’s been and the way he’s come up -- I know in our profession, we’re hired to be fired, but you kind of hope you get fired because you lose. And now we’re to the point when you look at UCLA and Minnesota and different places like that, you’re getting fired because you didn’t win enough.”
On the changing nature of coaching and job security: “There’s no question and I’m not blaming you particularly. But when talk radio hit, that made it harder on coaches, when social media hit, that made it impossible on coaches. Because everybody puts stuff out there, they don’t care what they say or who they say it about. And people that aren’t really in tough believe what they hear even though three-fourths of it could be fictitious … And those stories can grow. They’re becoming Moby Dicks. They grow and they grow and then they become reality even though they’re not.”
On outside reactions: “I look at Tubby Smith and he had some tough injuries in the last couple years, like I did. People that left for various reasons. Players that make dumb mistakes and sometimes they cost everybody. I think nowadays, people think we can control everything. Who graduates, what they do, right or wrong. We’re not quite that powerful. I wish I was as powerful as people think I am.”
On what he liked about Smith: “When he got the Kentucky job, I just thought he handled such a high-profile job with so much class. In my mind, he did it the right way. He never stooped to get into the junk that you get into, no matter what. And I guess I respected that. We were friends when he beat me and we were friends when I beat him. It just grew and grew. We were on the board together, our wives got to know each other a little bit and I have great respect for Donna and his son Saul … I can just promise you this: our profession today, lost one of the good guys. Our profession lost a guy that I think has always done it right, has won everywhere he’s been and just couldn’t quite win enough I guess.”
National hoops writer Eric Prisbell (USA Today):
On the expectation of the decision: “I think the closer you look at the Minnesota program and the situation, the more it seemed like an inevitability …Yeah, he got to three NCAA tournaments in six years and Minnesota had only been to eight in their history that were not vacated. But he has not posted a winning record in the Big Ten … most of the fan base has really soured on his tenure at this point. Everything has come into question with him, including substitution patterns and those types of things and that points to the coaching. “
A glance at the team from the outside: “The team has faded down the stretch so dramatically this year after such a great start, that points to maybe losing a portion of the team. This is maybe his most talented team that coincided with the best the Big Ten has been in many, many years, but they should have been in better shape toward the end of that season. It appeared a little bit like a team in disarray going toward the NCAA tournament.”
On the biggest problem moving forward: “It always comes back to one question for me, no matter what school it is. Can you get a better coach than the one you have right now. And I’m not sure they can. And that’s because Minnesota in my view is maybe the ninth best job in that league. There’s some real concerns there. They don’t have a practice facility right now … I think one of the worst things is if an administration has an inflated view of how good their job is. If they really think they have a good chance to get Shaka Smart or they don’t, or a Brad Stevens or they don’t, and it could be a long drawn out process, and nobody likes that and it plays out publicly in front of everybody.”