Scoggins: It was time to pull the plug on Tubby

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 25, 2013 - 10:49 PM

In the end, Norwood Teague made the right call. The only call, truthfully.

He had to swallow hard and pay Tubby Smith his $2.5 million buyout. He had to fire his first coach as Gophers athletic director. The men’s basketball program couldn’t move forward with status quo.

If the buyout provision wasn’t a hang-up, the basketball component made for an easy decision because the program had grown stale under Smith with no signs of improvement on the horizon. If Smith couldn’t finish better than ninth in the Big Ten with his best team in six seasons, what does that say about his coaching?

We could recite a laundry list of reasons why a change is necessary, but Teague’s decision came down to two truths: Smith suffered a crisis of confidence within his fan base and the school was concerned about the program’s future, particularly as it relates to the recruitment of three highly ranked juniors in the Twin Cities — Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis.

Smith brought respectability and national recognition to the school in wake of the Dan Monson mess. But his tenure, as a whole, didn’t measure up to those grand expectations that pulsated throughout Dinkytown on the day of his arrival.

Smith failed to finish above .500 in any Big Ten season. His players displayed little improvement over their careers. His teams nose-dived in February. He routinely criticized players publicly without taking accountability. His half-court offense, substitution patterns and in-game coaching were confounding.

This simply couldn’t go on any longer. Teague had to realize that, too, as he evaluated the program the past few months.

The Big Ten is a basketball powerhouse right now. The league is ridiculously competitive and anchored by some top-tier coaches. Teague is a savvy basketball man who doesn’t want to settle for a mediocre program.

“This program needs to be good,” Teague said, “and it has the potential to be great.”

The program is not necessarily a destination job right now, but it can be. Teague is determined to make that happen. But that requires the school’s central administration to become willing partners in moving the program forward, however expensive that might be.

This is not the time to cut corners and operate on the cheap. College basketball at the highest level requires a significant financial commitment, and the Gophers need to determine if they’re going to be serious players.

Teague undoubtedly wants to hire an established coach, a big-time name, whether it’s VCU’s Shaka Smart, Marquette’s Buzz Williams, Villanova’s Jay Wright or former Gophers player and Wolves coach Flip Saunders.

A coach of that pedigree could command an annual salary in the neighborhood of $2.5 to $3 million. And they will have a hard time attracting a high-profile coach without a firm commitment to build a practice facility. That project needs to happen quickly. The lack of a practice facility remains a significant detriment to recruiting.

We’re well aware that money is a sensitive topic around campus these days. Coaches’ buyouts and university overspending have put school leaders in the public cross hairs. Bad business decisions have fueled the perception that the school either wastes money foolishly or is incompetent. Or both. Only the Gophers could lose money on beer sales.

But if Teague is handcuffed by resources, the athletic department will continue to pay expensive buyouts as it recycles coach after coach. The Gophers basketball program is highly profitable and needs to remain that way, which means the school must hire a proven coach who can energize the fan base and sign blue-chip recruits.

“I refuse to feel that we cannot grow as a program and not be great as a program,” Teague said. “I feel like if we bring someone in that has a fresh approach and fresh ideas that we can surprise ourselves.”

Teague indicated he won’t use a search firm to find a coach. That’s refreshing because it demonstrates that he has a plan, and he knows the college basketball landscape intimately.

A change in leadership seemed inevitable as this season fell apart. Fan criticism became too loud and the program too lifeless for Teague to sit idle. His basketball program desperately needs some energy and a new direction.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 4th Qtr 2:30
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 2nd Half 0:23
Florida 55
Rice 57 2nd Half 2:40
Mercer 59
San Jose St 5 1st Half 11:49
Washington 12
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close