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It's official: Texas Tech hires Tubby Smith as basketball coach

Ex-Minnesota, ex-Kentucky coach to become fourth coach of the Red Raiders in as many seasons

Posted: April 1, 2013 - 3:27pm  |  Updated: April 2, 2013 - 12:24am
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Tubby Smith puts his guns up after being announced as the new Texas Tech basketball head coach during an announcement press conference at United Spirit Arena Tuesday.  Stephen Spillman
Stephen Spillman
Tubby Smith puts his guns up after being announced as the new Texas Tech basketball head coach during an announcement press conference at United Spirit Arena Tuesday.
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Texas Tech is hopeful a one-time national champion coach has enough left in the tank to pick its basketball program up off the mat.

Tech on Monday agreed to terms with Tubby Smith to become the school’s new basketball head coach. Smith will be introduced during a news conference at 2 p.m. today.

Brian Smith, Tubby Smith’s son, tweeted Monday night: “Props to my pops getting the Texas Tech job.”

Smith was in Lubbock on Thursday to meet with Tech officials and tour the school’s facilities, and the two sides had been in talks since.

Smith, 61, replaces Billy Gillispie, who resigned in September amid allegations of player mistreatment and NCAA violations regarding excessive practice time. The Red Raiders were led this season by interim coach Chris Walker, who guided the team to an 11-20 record and its first win in the Big 12 Conference Tournament in three years.

Walker was a candidate to earn the permanent position, and he appeared to be a popular choice among the local fan base, but Tech officials apparently opted on the side of experience in choosing Smith.

Smith guided Kentucky to a national championship in 1998, his first season with the Wildcats after he’d made three trips to the NCAA tournament round of 16 — two with Tulsa and one with Georgia — in the mid-1990s. He led Kentucky to the NCAA Tournament in all 10 of his seasons as Wildcats coach but was unable to reach the Final Four in his last nine. He resigned in 2007 and was replaced by Gillispie, who lasted just two seasons in Lexington.

Smith led Minnesota to three NCAA Tournament appearances in his six seasons at the school, and the Gophers had five 20-win seasons during his tenure. Smith guided Minnesota to a 124-81 record, including a 46-62 mark in the Big Ten Conference. His lone NCAA Tournament win with the team came in the round of 64 this season against UCLA.

But two days after a loss to Florida in the round of 32, Smith was fired by Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague.

“Tubby has had a long and distinguished career and we feel it’s time for a fresh set of eyes for our student-athletes and our program in general,” Teague said last week.

What Smith would take over in Lubbock is a rebuilding project, to say the least. The Red Raiders have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2007, and they’ve rarely been competitive since then.

Tech is just 19-43 the last two seasons, including a 4-32 mark in the Big 12. The Red Raiders haven’t had a winning record in league play since the 2006-07 season.

Two years ago at this time, Tech hired Gillispie with the hopes he could do for the Red Raiders what he did at UTEP and Texas A&M, programs he turned around and led to the NCAA Tournament in short order.

But after one season, during which Tech went 8-23, Gillispie was forced to resign after committing secondary NCAA violations for exceeding allowable practice-time limits and allegedly mistreating players.

That left Tech, which had a number of players leave the team during Gillispie’s tenure, scrambling for a coach with about a month until the start of official practices. Tech tabbed Walker, an assistant during Gillispie’s lone season in Lubbock, as the interim coach.

Tech struggled again this season, winning just three Big 12 games. The Red Raiders began playing better at the end of the season, culminating with a win against West Virginia in the first round of the conference tournament.

Still, Smith will face an uphill battle. Tech currently has no players committed or signed to play for the team next season.

But while Smith was never able to transform Minnesota into a contender for the Big Ten title — his teams never finished better than sixth in the league — he did upgrade the talent on the roster. Minnesota was 95-93 overall in the six seasons before he arrived.

The win against UCLA this season was Minnesota’s first in the NCAA Tournament since 1997.

 

nick.kosmider@lubbockonline.com

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Fans respond

We asked fans on Red Raiders.com Facebook page for their thoughts about reports Texas Tech is close to hiring Tubby Smith as head basketball coach. Responses were a mixed bag.

Troy Bassett: Not necessarily the flashiest coach or brand of basketball, but just what this program needs after the last couple years. Excited about the future, for sure.

Steve Weber: Great hire, just what Texas Tech needs!!

Dan Swanner: He did lead Gophers to three outta six NCAAs and that’s three more than Raiders went to in last six years. But please retain both Chris Walker and Bubba!

Lorie Vincent Tawney: Should have hired Walker

Tj Fly: What really bothers me about the hire is Tubby’s lack of recruiting ties to Texas. If Tubby was really, really smart, he would do all he can to keep Chris Walker as his assistant. If nothing else, to help with some kind of stability in this program

Matt McMillan: I would rather pursue someone that would have a long-term interest in Tech, Lubbock, etc. I do not believe that Tubby Smith is a long term solution, more of a band-aid which really does nothing for recruiting. Tech’s basketball program will be a work in progress for a few years and having a younger, up and coming coach with ties to the Texas high school basketball landscape is far more appealing as a fan.

Chiloi Hoang: The Kingsbury hiring united and energized the fan base for football ... this hiring is dividing the fan base and getting no one excited about the future of Tech basketball.

Greg Trimble: This to me is the same hire as we had in football with Tuberville, a coach that has had some success but has no ties to Texas and was not here for the right reasons or for the long haul. Coach Walker, I believe has the tools to be a great coach and recruiter here, has ties to Texas and wants to be at Tech.

Gopal Raghavan: Why not Coach Walker?

Brent Gibbs: Does it really matter? We haven’t competed in men’s basketball since the Sweet 16 run with Sasser and Hamm.

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6
4

Awesome hire Tech! So lucky to get Tubby Smith

This is tremendous news for Red Raider fans.

Winner of a national championship. Post season five of the last 6 years. Sweet 16s at every school. Won 20 games in 18 of his 21 seasons as Head Coach.

He brings credibility and stability to the program, which we really need right now.

Great publicity, too. The national media is alredy very positive about this hire.

6
7

Same Song Second Verse

Same was said with Bobby Knight a few years ago, and we all know how that went.

6
6

Yes, it is so great

to hire a worn-out retread with no Texas ties who will be able to elevate Tech basketball to eighth place finishes for the next three years until he gets fired (or do we give him eight years like Kristy). Wake me up in four years to tell me who the next coach is. Zzzzzzzzzz

5
7

Good Young Recruiter vs 61 yr old reject

This sounds like a hard decision....Oh let's go with the 61 yr old that can't recruit and has no relationship skills.

10
3

Coach Smith

While Coach Smith may not be the coach I would have chosen, he is the coach that was chosen. Let's stop all the pot shots at a man we don't know and get behind our Red Raiders like we should. All the negative remarks are counterproductive.

4
2

Could be Good

Tubby Smith is a great coach, and I will get behind him and the team. He has the potential to be a really good hire for Tech; however after the past results (or lack there of) of Tech hiring “big name” coaches (Knight, Gillispie, Tuberville), I'm not completely convinced this was the best decision. I honestly thought they would continue with the "young movement" when selecting their new coach. Besides, someone who wins a National Championship in their first year with a team really just got lucky by winning with someone else's players.

14
0

Keep Walker too!

This could be a really good thing if they would keep Walker as the assistant head coach and groom him to take over when Smith is done. With Walker recruiting and Smith coaching and mentoring Walker, I can see positive things for the Raiders. And I'm with Old Raider on supporting the new coach regardless.

11
1

@Old Raider

ditto...like it or not, lets support Smith and the young men playing for TTU.

9
1

BKNIGHT

If TSmith can get Tech back to the sold out arenas and NCAA tournaments like back in the Bob Knight days then this is a great hire.

5
9

Basketball hire

This is another ridiculous intervention by Tech's administration. Please leave Kent.

6
3

meshycross

you have no earthly idea what you are talking about.

4
5

Does (pick family member) get to be coach-in-waiting ???

" Post season five of the last 6 years. " - LIAR - 3 of 6. " Sweet 16s at every school. " - LIAR - none at Minnesota. Obviously, you are a schill for the admin 'ThreeDaughters'. Right on MYC, and shut up scott. You learned management techniques at the altar of hance !

I used to think like you, 'Old Raider', but after listening to 104.3 (the 'mouthpiece') all afternoon saying "HANCE and Hocutt", I'm not sure that's the right way to go anymore. "All the negative remarks" forced out the last Tubb early, and this stinks of shoving Hance's Tub down our throats again to get even.

46-62 is a lot like Curry's 46-70. So is having your best years (UK) with the previous coaches players (krusty at Purdue) and having them all-to-happy to have you leave.

I was hoping this was all a bad-taste April Fool's joke. Now it's just a bad taste in poor taste, and we're all gonna need extra 'curry sauce'.

5
1

Pete, Pete....

five out of 6 postseasons is the Truth!!! It will set you free!!!!!

4
5

Old and worn out -

Crap...

He is old and worn out.

Tech Basketball is going down the [filtered word] Hole!!!

Which team will suck more? the men's or ladies?

3
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Only 6th.....

At 6th in BIG 10 that "ONLY" placed him behind Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan St, Wisconcin, and Iowa. Oops that's 7- well I'd rather play BIG 12 season any day than play all those guys. In other words as he rebuilt Minn going 6th this year, that could parlay into 3rd or 4th easily in BIG 12. He is a good coach. I just hope he keeps Walker (if he will stay) to recruit and be asst head coach. And BUBBA too!

4
1

The scorpion stings the frog again

Everything I have read points to the fact that Kirby Hocutt's choice was Walker. Tubby is Hance's choice; this is startlingly like the Flubberville hire. Hire someone who once was a part of something great and maybe that person can bring that to Tech. It is a bad April Fool"s Joke. Retire Kent.

3
0

Let's hope this Tubby does better than the last.

I was really pulling for Walker, but I guess it was not ment to be. Let's hope they do keep Walker on the staff if he wants to stay. It's time to recruite and get this team back to winning again! Yes, it's been a long time, but this team used to win a lot more games in a season. Wreck 'em Tech!

6
0

I Wish Coach Smith The Best

Now that Tubby Smith is officially our Head Coach, I wish him much much happiness and success in my hometown of Lubbock.

Far from being an expert, other than a brief coaching experience with Coach Bobby Knight, I hope we treat Coach Walker well also. He deserves our kindest gratitude and respect.

In the best of both worlds, maybe we could keep him as an Assistant Coach and benefit from his recruiting talent, i.e. Frazier and Bail.

Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but maybe there will be a time soon where it is worth the time and money to take a four hour plane flight just to see them play good ball.

1
0

Addendum

By the way, to show you how much I know, I was pretty P.O.'d when Tech hired some coach named Leach way back when.

3
6

point is...

Walker did NOT prove himself. Period.

4
2

NIT doesn't count as post-season, just like ...

... pre-conference wins against nobodies are a useless barometer of what kind of team you have. 46-62 (47-65 including ncaa) is your truth.

Knight leaves the program in shambles, and y'all wanna go ga-ga cause some past-his-prime might take us to the NIT. Losers !

3
1

Not my first choice

I was in the Coach Walker camp for all the reasons that I stated before. But since I nor did many fans get their choice, it is time to support Coach Smith. We could have done much worse. Tubby is a very good man, a class human being and a very good coach. I just hope the fans can get behind him and stop all the silly finger pointing at Hance and the BOR. This is Kirby's pick and he deserves the opportunity to come in and try to resurrect this program. Tubby has nothing to do with Hance, the BOR or any of the other coaches that have been here. I hope the fan base gives Tubby the respect and support that he deserves. If he can get this program back to 20 win seasons and NCAA appearances then he will have the program in better shape then it has been in years. Let's give him a chance.

4
4

Finger pointing

Why else, Nashville, would Tech mak this stupid decision. They had a perfectly good interim coach who I hope runs away as fast as he can to greeener pastures and the reverend idiot Hance and his BOR can live with this decision, just like Tuberville and his idiocy.

4
1

Safe Choice

This was the safe choice. Lots of experience, a national champ, and a coach that had his team in the Dance. Minnesota was a well coached team when I saw them in Austin. That being said this was a short term solution. Something to take the pressure off of the Admin's back. It shows where Kirby currently stands in the political structure of TTU. He is still new and he has had quite a lot shoveled his way. This decision says the odds are Curry stays. How would it look, if Hance and Myers had to admit another mistake? It still bothers me that most of the Tech games in March had Myers sitting behind the Tech bench. Can't he just go away. Hasn't he done enough damage.

All this being said, I'll hope Tubby--oh God I want to say Tubbs-- is successful.

A shout out to Rudy Davalos, their is a bright young coach who could work wonders in ABQ.

1
1

Safe Choice

This was the safe choice. Lots of experience, a national champ, and a coach that had his team in the Dance. Minnesota was a well coached team when I saw them in Austin. That being said this was a short term solution. Something to take the pressure off of the Admin's back. It shows where Kirby currently stands in the political structure of TTU. He is still new and he has had quite a lot shoveled his way. This decision says the odds are Curry stays. How would it look, if Hance and Myers had to admit another mistake? It still bothers me that most of the Tech games in March had Myers sitting behind the Tech bench. Can't he just go away. Hasn't he done enough damage.

All this being said, I'll hope Tubby--oh God I want to say Tubbs-- is successful. It is in all of our best interests.

A shout out to Rudy Davalos, their is a bright young coach who could work wonders in ABQ.

2
1

@nashville raider

It's not the fans pointing fingers. And it's not solely Hocutt's decision. All day long, on 'TTU Flagship Station', the Tech radio hosts have been saying "Hance and Hocutt", not Kirby.

3
3

Ok

So when do radio hosts decide who the decision makers are?

1
0

Good Luck To All

And to all a good night.

6
2

Just for clarity

TTU bylaws dictate that all head coaching positions must be approved by the chancellor. This is made well before Hance was put in place.

Thats right, its part of his job to do this. Shocker.

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