Mr. Smith goes to Dinkytown.
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers have a new men’s basketball coach.
Tubby Smith is leaving Kentucky after 10 seasons to take the head coaching job at Minnesota.
Smith, who had four years remaining on his contract, will be introduced at a 1 p.m. ET news conference Friday in Minneapolis. A Kentucky source said that the school would still honor the $1.5 million incentive bonus that Smith is due on April 3.
Smith informed Kentucky players and athletics director Mitch Barnhart about his decision earlier Thursday and also phoned former Minnesota coach Dan Monson, who was fired in November, to tell him he was accepting the job.
In 10 seasons at Kentucky, Smith averaged 26 wins per year. He coached his teams to four “Elite Eight” appearance, including the national championship in his first season of 1997-98. The Wildcats made the NCAA tournament in all 10 of Smith’s seasons.
Given that track record, I am embracing this move. The Gophers have made only one NCAA tournament appearance in the past eight years. I guess the one positive aspect of Monson’s lackluster tenure as coach is the drastically low expectations in the minds of the fans. But if the Gophers can make 10 consecutive tourney appearances, four elite eights and a national title? If I don’t have a pen I’ll prick my finger and sign that deal in blood.
The question remains is how effective a recruiter Smith will be. The University of Kentucky name packs a big punch in the basketball world. Did they attain top notch talent due to the program’s high-profile stature or because of Smith himself?
Whatever the case, I believe in the next two to three seasons the Gophers will be still playing basketball at this time of the year.