Milwaukee - Gophers coach Tubby Smith refuted rumors linking him to Auburn's opening following his team's 65-54 loss against Xavier in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

"Obviously, that's just talk, because I'm very pleased with what we've accomplished here," Smith said. "I'm pleased with where we are in the program. I'm very ... I'm looking forward to coming back to Minnesota." 

Smith also said that he hasn't received any job offers.

"No. No I haven't," he said.

A Friday report by columnist Dennis Dodd says Auburn "is close to hiring" Smith.

The Friday edition of the Birmingham News said Auburn, which just built a $90 million arena, is willing to make a significant offer to a big-name coach. The newspaper cited Smith as Auburn's potential target.

But a source familiar with the situation strongly denied the report.

Athletic director Joel Maturi told the Star Tribune, "I have heard the [Auburn] rumors." 

Maturi, however, also said that he had a gut feeling about the situation: "I think he's our coach." 

Here's the thing.

Coaches make moves via agents, search agencies and other liasons.

If Smith leaves, he's not going to request Maturi's blessing. He'll just go.

Maturi said a coach would only call him if/when he's ready to sign with a new school.

That's the way it happened at Georgia. Weeks before he left, Smith praised the Bulldogs' program and talked about the future. Then, he was gone.

That's the way it happened at Kentucky. The administration at that school wanted Smith to make some changes to his program. But I'm told the school's officials were shocked when Smith informed them that he was headed to Minnesota. Where? 

If the same thing ever happens at Minnesota, that's the way it will go down, too. Poof. He's gone.

This is the second year in a row that Smith has had to deal with rumors during the NCAA tournament. Last year, reports connected him to the Virginia opening.

Earlier this month, reports linked him to the Oregon opening, before Ernie Kent was even fired.

The difference betweeen those rumors, however, and the latest ones related to the Auburn gig is that past reports only cited Smith as a "target." 

This is the first time a report has suggested that Smith is on the verge of signing with another school.

Oh yeah.

The Gophers are playing Xavier in the NCAA tournament Friday morning.

I picked Xavier but I think the game will be close.

Check out today's Star Tribune and for game preview info.

Prediction: Xavier 71, Minnesota 69 ... Last-second shot.


Older Post

Have the Gophers played their way into the NCAA tournament?

Newer Post

Source: Georgia Tech, Oregon associates contact Tubby Smith