Monday, November 28, 2005

Is it time to think about letting Tubby go?

Basketball season is here and I’m sure some University of Kentucky fans are already upset. Why is that? Well I’ll tell you. UK has already blown a chance at an undefeated season. Of course it’s all Tubby Smith’s fault. I know that sounds idiotic, but I am sure there is someone out there that feels this way. The UK Wildcats head coaching job is the most pressure packed job in college basketball without a doubt.

Where else would a coach who over the last three years has won more games than any other coach in college basketball still be questioned about his coaching skills? Where else would a coach who wins just about 80% of his games get second guessed for even the most minute decisions? I’ll tell you where, right here in the Bluegrass State.

The man has won an NCAA title for Rupp’s sake. Not many coaches even get a sniff at one of those. Now here come the detractors, “Yeah, but he won with Pitino’s players.” He did, but some of you act like that was the 1996 UK team and the players were so good they needed no coach. If you reflect back, that was not the case, far from it. So the whole “Tubby was carried by Pitino’s players” complaint doesn’t hold water, unless you just happen to know nothing about the game of basketball.

I have always maintained that if Pitino knew he could get another NCAA title, he would have never left UK. The man has an ego, the Celtics job or any other bad NBA job would have been open to Pitino after the 1998 season. In fact, another NCAA title would have more than likely increased his asking price and we all know that the only reason Ricky left in the first place was for the cash.

I have never realized why UK fans can’t be happy that they are always in the hunt to win an NCAA title. I guess they are just spoiled more than other teams. Nothing short of a championship will be accepted. I don’t see UCLA fans putting this much pressure on their team. You don’t think that WKU or Murray State fans would strangle their dogs to have a serious chance at a national championship every year? I bet 80% of them would punt their dog like a football for a Sweet 16 finish every season.

Kentucky is a hotbed for hoops and has been for many years. We seem to have more unemployed basketball coaches here than any state in the world. I get caught up in the wave of second guessing too. Luckily for bleacher seat coaches, we live in a country where you can voice your opinion freely. In the former Soviet Union when a fan questioned the moves of the coach of the Russian National basketball team, they were shot at sunrise.

In my life as a Kentucky fan, I have never seen a UK coach more hated than Tubby. I hope I am not being too naïve to believe that it is only because he happened to follow Rick Pitino and not for other ignorant reasons that shouldn’t be serious reasons to hate anyone in this day and age. If you look back over the last eight years, we can see that Tubby has had a better run than Ricky P. Can anyone say Celtics?

So another season begins and another year of, “What the heck is Tubby doing out there?!?!?” and “Let’s get rid of that guy.” As far as I am concerned UK needs to stand pat and UK fans need to appreciate the fact that UK is a contender every year and a majority of schools in Division 1 basketball cannot say that

Whew, thank you for letting me get that rant out of the way because with that being said, it may be time for UK to find a new coach. I know, I know, I was a Tubby defender and I still am. I still believe that he is one of the five or ten best coaches in the game right now as you can read in the opening paragraphs and I think UK is lucky to have him, you can feel a but coming up, can’t you. BUT, he has not appeared in a Final Four since the 1998 season and we are coming up on 8 years since UK’s last Final Four appearance. If I am indeed correct with my facts, and there is a good chance I am not, the Wildcats have never gone longer than eight seasons without appearing in a Final Four. As you can see, I am a little touched with fair weather Wildcat fever and the only cure is not more cowbell, but a Final Four appearance.

While I am not so delusional that I expect UK to win the NCAA title every year, (because frankly no team can win every year in this day and age) but I do expect to make it to the Final Four every three or four years. I would also like to beat Michigan State in an Elite Eight game. I am not in favor of dumping Tubby if he doesn’t make the Final Four this year or even the next year, in fact I am very excited to see what Tubby will make out of this current team that has no post presence whatsoever. BUT if or when he approaches that tenth year without a Final Four appearance, I believe that the university should at least look at the option of perhaps going in a different direction.

I have been satisfied with the job Tubby Smith has done and I am not sure who UK could get if they let him go. At one time many were hoping Billy Donovan would be the coach, but that would be a nightmare. For one thing his Florida teams have never been known for their toughness and one thing you can say about Tubby’s teams, they play defense and they are tough. Not too mention the fact that you would obviously want someone who was a better coach than Tubby to take his place and Billy Donovan is not.

If Tubby were let go I don’t see the coaches from Duke, North Carolina, UConn, or any other so called “big” program coming to UK. I especially do not see Rick Pitino coming back so don’t think that as soon as Tubby leaves that Rick is going to swoop in and take over. Pitino is gone, move on. So besides about 5 coaches in the game right now, UK could not bring anyone in as good as or better than Tubby. Thankfully it wouldn’t be my responsibility to find a replacement.

As I am writing this I am beginning to hate myself, I am turning into the one thing I thought I would never turn into, a spoiled, rabid, irrational, arrogant, delusional UK basketball fan. I guess we all have it in us; it just takes something to trigger it. For me it is an eight year Final Four drought, for others it is losing one game in the season. At least I’m not that guy.


Trent said...

The 'Cats went nine years between final 4 appearances twice: from '66 to '74, and from '84 to '93. And no I didn't have to look that up.

That said, your point is taken.

Trent said...

oops, that should say '75

Piccu said...

In 66 and 75 UK went to the Final Four with eight years between, the same is true for 84 to 93. I don't count the years of 75 and 93 because in those years they returned to the Final Four, it's the years in between Final Fours I was referring to.

my_merlin77 said...

I hate the entitled fan attitude as well. As many of you may know, I would almost always rather be playing a sport than watching one. I enjoy following teams from a far but to sit down and watch every game, I probably won't. The thing that drives me crazy about sports is the enthusiasts who know how they could do it better. I KNOW that 99.9% of people don't know enough to coach a high school team, much less a NCAA D1 school! There is so much that goes into balancing practice, games, maintaining a fitness level, and at times (more and more) playing nursemaid. That's a lot of know-how, effort, and putting up with crap that has to be done. So until you have coached a sport at least at a high school level, don't talk to me about how you'd have done it better.

BRATCH said...

The only place that might be worse to coach at than UK is our hometown. LOL

I laugh, but it's true.