Ohhhhhh Tubby. Tubby, Tubby, Tubby.....
I feel obligated to write a post here because I've been a UK fan my entire life. But, I have decidedly conflicted feelings about the end of the Tubby Smith era. It's certainly been a tumultuous last few years. From complaints about recruiting to a super highly rated incoming class in 2004 back to complaints and stories of player infighting and toxic personalities it's been tough to follow this team, particularly the past two years when the results have been less than stellar.
Lexington has had a buzz about it for a while. I really believe that the mood of the common man the media are distinctly different. This, of course, is based solely on my personal opinion. But I didn't talk to a single person at work today when the news came down the pike whose first reaction was "wow, that's a shame." The biggest reaction was relief.
The homers in the media always loved Tubby, and their arguments certainly hold water, particularly in terms of stats, to back it up. But, nine years with no Final Four appearances is what incited such animosity with irrational fans. It should be noted, however, that nobody disliked Tubby the man. He's a great guy; gracious and polite and never once had a disparaging thing to say about the state or the fans. Never once was he responsible for a black mark on the institution.
So why am I glad to see him go? Well, looking back, the Smith era at UK strikes me as similar to an organ transplant that just didn't take. It started off so well, but eventually was doomed to fail. Kentucky needs a big time coach with a big time personality. Tubby never had a strong enough personality or that proverbial "chip on his shoulder". And, you know what? It's hard to find guys like that. I certainly wish Tubby well and I'm sure he'll be successful with Minnesota.
Now, the real fun starts. It's like Christmas Eve around here. We get a new coach under the tree. Imagine you've asked for a G.I. Joe action figure. Who knows if you're going to get Snake Eyes or Duke? Either is completely awesome. Let's just hope your parents don't try to get you the knock-off series and try to tell you it's "just as good" or "use your imagination". It should be really fun to see what happens in the next few weeks. In the meantime, if there's one thing Wildcats fans are good at, it's rampant speculation. So far I've heard names including: Billy Donovan (Florida), Billy Gillispie (Texas A&M), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Tom Crean(Marquette) and even Pitino. Probably all great choices. Cats fans, you got what you wanted. Stay tuned.
Come on Snake Eyes.