Inthe second head-scratching firing in as many days, Minnesota fired headbasketball coach Tubby Smith on Monday. Smith had compiled a 124-81record in six seasons at Minnesota and had taken the Golden Gophers past6th seeded UCLA before falling to Florida in the Round of 32.
Smithhad previously coached at Kentucky where he won the 1998 NationalChampionship before a series of mediocre seasons led to his departure toMinnesota.
Minnesota’sprogram was reeling following an academic cheating scandal. Smithbrought the program back to respectability including three NCAATournament appearances, but the program never became more than solid.
NorwoodTeague, the relatively new Athletic Director at Minnesota, said he feltthe program needed a “fresh set of eyes.” He could be targeting ShakaSmart, the head coach at VCU where Teague worked prior to coming toMinnesota. Smart could also be a target of more high profile programslike USC and UCLA.
Other big names, including former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders have been mentioned.
Inthe same vein as UCLA’s dismissal of Ben Howland, many have beencritical of this decision. Critics have said that Minnesota lacks thestature of other Big 10 programs and that Smith had been relativelysuccessful with the program.