One Rub, Two Dubs, No Tub: Smith Cast Adrift
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Only last night, a cadré of my Facebook friends soundly scoffed at my claim of Coach Smith being overrated as a coach. Call me Nostradamus!
I've always believed Coach Smith was far from forthright when -- back in the day when he was at the helm of Kentucky basketball -- he was quoted by the media that he "fully expects to be coaching the Wildcats next season." We later discovered that he had been in touch with Minnesota weeks before. It was totally out of character for a coach who was so highly respected, but there it was, on the record.
As a person, you can't do any better than Coach Smith. As a coach, though, you can and should do a lot better.
As a Wildcats fan, I am thankful for Coach Smith's time here in Lexington. I am even more thankful that he quit when he did, because there is no way he was going to get fired. Smith won a title with Coach Pitino's players, and when it came time to recruit his own, the program here at UK went downhill quickly.
Minnesota thought they were stealing him away from Kentucky. They certainly thought wrong. Many of us would have volunteered to help him pack.
In his six seasons at Minnesota, Coach Smith went 124-81 (.610). His teams did manage to win 20 games five times, but with today's non-conference schedules manufacted by Sta-Puft, that just doesn't mean what it did 10 or 15 years ago. Smith's teams were 46-62 in the Big Ten. That's 16 games under .500. Minnesota never finished higher than sixth in the Big Ten under Coach Smith.
The administration at Minnesota was in such a hurry to get rid of Coach Smith that they bought out the remaining four years on his contract. I think they finally understood what Kentucky fans knew back in 2007 when the Gophers 'stole' Coach Smith away from the Big Blue. He was and is an underachiever, and now it looks like he has left Minnesota in worse condition then when he took over. Given his exit at Kentucky, some would say this is a déja vu moment.
I don't like to see a man lose his job. I do wish coach Smith the very best. There is no doubt that some program will take a shot at a guy who has won a national title, but at some point down the line, they will find out what I already knew.
Great man. Average coach.