Tubby Smith

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Tubby Smith
Tubby Smith 140507-D-HU462-310 (cropped).jpg
Tubby Smith
Sport(s) Basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Texas Tech
Conference Big 12
Record 41-46 (.471)
Annual salary $1,900,000
Biographical details
Born (1951-06-30) June 30, 1951 (age 64)[1]
Scotland, Maryland[1]
Alma mater High Point
Playing career
1969–1973 High Point
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1973–1977 Great Mills HS
1977–1979 Hoke County HS
1979–1986 VCU (asst.)
1986–1989 South Carolina (asst.)
1989–1991 Kentucky (asst.)
1991–1995 Tulsa
1995–1997 Georgia
1997–2007 Kentucky
2007–2013 Minnesota
2013–present Texas Tech
Head coaching record
Overall 552-272 (.670)
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship (1998)
Regional Championships – Final Four (1998)
5 SEC regular season championships (1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005)
5 SEC Tournament championships (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004)
2 MVC regular season championships (1994, 1995)
AP College Coach of the Year (2003)
Naismith College Coach of the Year (2003)[2]
NABC Coach of the Year (2003)
Henry Iba Award (2003)
Jim Phelan Award (2005)[3]
MVC Coach of the Year (1994, 1995)[4]
SEC Coach of the Year (1998, 2003, 2005)[4]

Orlando Henry "Tubby" Smith (born June 30, 1951) is an American college basketball coach. He is currently the men's basketball head coach at Texas Tech University;[5] his previous position, from 2007-2013, was as the men's basketball head coach at the University of Minnesota. Smith previously served in the same role at the University of Tulsa, the University of Georgia, and University of Kentucky, where he coached the Wildcats to the 1998 NCAA championship.

In his 24 years as a head coach, Smith has had 19 seasons of twenty or more wins. In 2005, he joined Roy Williams, Nolan Richardson, Denny Crum and Jim Boeheim as the only head coaches to win 365 games in 15 seasons or fewer. With Minnesota's invitation to the 2009 NCAA tournament, Smith became the fifth coach to lead four different teams to the NCAA tournament.[6]

Smith's three sons are following in their father's coaching footsteps. G.G. Smith, who played for his father at the University of Georgia, is the coach at Loyola University Maryland.[7] His middle son Saul Smith played for his father at the University of Kentucky and is an assistant coach for his father at Texas Tech University. Brian, his youngest son, was a point guard at Ole Miss and is an assistant coach at Windermere Preparatory School.[8][9]

Early years[edit]

Smith was born in Scotland, Maryland, in Saint Mary's County, the sixth of 17 children born to sharecroppers Guffrie and Parthenia Smith. His large family accounts for his unusual nickname. Of all the Smith children, Tubby was most fond of staying in the galvanized washtub where the children were bathed. Smith says he tried to shake the moniker several times, but it stuck incessantly. He recalls that a 10th grade teacher who didn't tolerate nicknames was the last person to call him by his proper name, Orlando.[10]

After having a scholarship offer from the University of Maryland rescinded, Smith enrolled at High Point College (now High Point University), graduating in 1973. He played under three different head coaches at High Point, including future boss J. D. Barnett. He lettered four times and was an all-conference performer as a senior. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education while at High Point, and also met his future wife, Donna, who was the homecoming queen.[11]

In 1973, Smith began his coaching career with four years at his high school alma materGreat Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland, compiling a 46–36 record. His next stop was Hoke County High School in Raeford, North Carolina, where he recorded a 28–18 mark in two seasons.[1]

Assistant coaching positions[edit]

Virginia Commonwealth University[edit]

Smith began as assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University under his former High Point coach J. D. Barnett. From 1979 to 1986, VCU amassed a 144–64 record, winning three Sun Belt Conference Championships.[1]

Smith took two important things away from his experience as an assistant coach for the Rams. First, under Barnett, Smith learned the principles of the ball-line defense, a hallmark of Smith's teams throughout his head coaching career.[1] Second was a relationship with fellow assistant David Hobbs, an assistant and associate head coach under Smith during his tenure at the University of Kentucky.[12]

University of South Carolina[edit]

Smith left Virginia Commonwealth in 1986 to join George Felton's staff at the University of South Carolina. Felton remembered Smith from having recruited one of his players while Smith was at Hoke High School.[13] During Smith's three years, the Gamecocks were 53–35.[1] Later, roles would be reversed, with Smith bringing Felton in as an assistant coach at Kentucky.[14]

University of Kentucky[edit]

Smith joined the University of Kentucky under then head coach Rick Pitino, who had the challenge of rebuilding a UK program that had been rocked by NCAA probation and player defections.

With only eight scholarship student-athletes, none taller than 6–7, the staff molded the Cats into winners once again, exceeding expectations to record a 14–14 mark. The following year, with Smith promoted to associate coach and UK still on probation, the Wildcats earned a 22–6 record, a final ranking of ninth in the AP poll, and an SEC-best 14–4 record.

Smith wasn't the only soon-to-be high profile name on Pitino's coaching staff at Kentucky. Future head coaches Ralph Willard, Herb Sendek, Billy Donovan, and Bernadette Locke-Mattox were all Smith's colleagues.[15]

Head coaching career[edit]

University of Tulsa[edit]

From 1991 to 1995, Smith led the Tulsa Golden Hurricane men's basketball to a 79–43 record. Rebuilding the basketball program his first two years, he then led the team to two consecutive Missouri Valley Conference regular season titles and two appearances in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in 1994 and 1995. Smith's 1994 Tulsa team upset UCLA in the tourney's first round before knocking off Oklahoma State. In '95, the Golden Hurricane defeated Big Ten team Illinois to open March Madness.

University of Georgia[edit]

On March 29, 1995, Smith accepted the head coaching job at the University of Georgia, becoming the school's first African-American head coach.[16] In two seasons, he led the Bulldogs to a 45–19 record, including the first back-to-back seasons of 20 wins or more in school history.[17] His teams achieved a Sweet 16 finish in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Clemson to open the '96 tournament before upsetting the top-seeded Purdue Boilermakers.

University of Kentucky[edit]

Tubby Smith was introduced as the Wildcats' 20th head coach on May 12, 1997, charged with the task of replacing popular coach Rick Pitino, who left to become the head coach of the NBA's Boston Celtics. The Wildcats were at the top of the basketball world at the time, having won a national title in 1996 and played in the national title game in 1997. The team Smith inherited sported seven players from the Arizona loss, and five from the 1996 championship team.

In his first season at UK, he coached the Wildcats to their seventh NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, including a come-from-behind victory against Duke in the Elite Eight. His 1998 national championship is unique in modern times, as being the only team in over twenty years to win without a first-team All-American or future NBA lottery pick. (see 1998 NCAA Tournament).

Smith's teams, known primarily for a defense-oriented slower style of play coined "Tubbyball", received mixed reviews among Kentucky fans who have historically enjoyed a faster, higher-scoring style of play under previous coaches.

Smith led Kentucky to one national championship in 1998, a perfect 16–0 regular season conference record in 2003, five SEC regular season championships (1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005) and five SEC Tournament titles (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004). Smith led the Wildcats to six Sweet Sixteen appearances (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005) and four Elite Eight appearances (1998, 1999, 2003, 2005) in his ten seasons. He totaled 100 wins quicker than any other Wildcat coach except Hall of Fame member Adolph Rupp and current Wildcat coach John Calipari, reaching the plateau in 130 games. In 2003, Smith was named AP College Coach of the Year. He was also named SEC Coach of the Year in 1998, 2003, and 2005.

Smith came under considerable pressure from many UK fans late in his tenure. Many fans thought that his recruiting was subpar, and felt chagrin that his teams never reached another Final Four during his tenure. Some UK fans went as far as to place "for sale" signs on his front lawn. He did come just a double overtime loss short of a Final Four appearance in 2005, losing to Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans. This nine year "Final Four" drought is the longest of any coach in UK history. Smith struggled to land many top recruits. In one instance he passed up McDonald's All-American Corey Brewer, saying Brewer was too skinny to play in the SEC. Brewer went on to play at Florida, and helped lead the Gators to two NCAA championships (2006 and 2007.[18]). Smith, instead, opted for the more robust Perry Stevenson.[19] That along with five double digit loss seasons (which led to Tubby's critics nicknaming him "Ten-Loss Tubby") caused the pressure to ramp up on him.[20]

On March 22, 2007, Smith resigned his position of UK head coach to accept the head coach position at the University of Minnesota.[21]

In his ten seasons at Kentucky, Smith led UK to an overall record of 263–83 record for a winning percentage of .760.[4] In contrast, the coach Kentucky selected to succeed him, Billy Gillespie, went 40-27 for a winning percentage of .597, and missed the NCAAs in his second year.

In 2013, Smith was elected to the UK Athletic Hall of Fame.[22]

University of Minnesota[edit]

Smith was hired as the new men's head coach of the University of Minnesota on March 22, 2007.[23] He replaced Dan Monson, who resigned from Minnesota on November 30, 2006 and Jim Molinari, who served as the interim coach following Monson's resignation.[24] Coach Smith joined Minnesota on the heels of several disappointing seasons for the Gophers, who had made the NCAA Tournament only once since Monson's hiring in 1999.

In Smith's first season, the team improved from 8–22 in 2006–07 to 20–14 in 2007–08, and reached the Big Ten Tournament semifinals after defeating second-seeded Indiana. In the 2008–09 season, Smith led Minnesota to a record of 22–11 and a bid to the NCAA tournament, where the team was eliminated in the opening round. In the 2009–10 season, Smith's team struggled throughout the year with off court issues and close losses. However, in the Big Ten Tournament, Smith guided the team to win three games in three days to advance to Minnesota's first ever appearance in the Big Ten championship game. Though it lost that game, the team's run vaulted it into the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, where it again lost in the first round.

In 2008, Smith had the highest salary of any state employee in Minnesota.[25][26]

The 2010–11 Gophers struggled to maintain the program's momentum, however, finishing 17–14 overall and 6–12 in league play (9th place). Following the season, Smith cited injuries as a major factor for the team's disappointing season.[27] The 2011–12 Gophers were 19–14 overall and 6–12 in conference play at the conclusion of the regular season. After earning a bid to play in the NIT, the Gophers won four consecutive games before losing in the NIT championship game to Stanford. They concluded the season with a 23–15 overall record, which tied for the most wins in a season in school history.

In July 2012, Smith signed a three-year extension with Minnesota.[28] However, on March 25, 2013, Smith was relieved of his head coaching duties following a Round of 32 loss in the NCAA Tournament to Florida.[29] He was replaced by Richard Pitino, whose father Rick, ironically, Smith had replaced at Kentucky. Pitino has since failed to reach the NCAA tournament in his two years as head coach.

Texas Tech University[edit]

On April 1, 2013, Texas Tech announced that Smith would be hired and he was introduced as the new men's basketball coach on April 2, 2013.[30] He replaced Billy Gillispie (who ironically replaced Smith after he left Kentucky in 2007), who resigned from Texas Tech on September 20, 2012 and Chris Walker, who served as the interim coach following Gillispie's resignation. Smith led the Red Raiders to their first victory over a top 25 team since the 2009 season with a January 15, 2014 upset over the #9 Iowa State Cyclones.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Missouri Valley Conference) (1991–1995)
1991–92 Tulsa 17–13 12–6 T–4th
1992–93 Tulsa 15–14 10–8 4th
1993–94 Tulsa 23–8 15–3 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1994–95 Tulsa 24–8 15–3 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Tulsa: 79–43 (.648) 52–20 (.722)
Georgia Bulldogs (Southeastern Conference) (1995–1997)
1995–96 Georgia 21–10 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1996–97 Georgia 24–9 10–6 4th NCAA First Round
Georgia: 45–19 (.703) 19–13 (.594)
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (1997–2007)
1997–98 Kentucky 35–4 14–2 1st NCAA Champions
1998–99 Kentucky 28–9 11–5 3rd NCAA Elite Eight
1999–00 Kentucky 23–10 12–4 T–1st NCAA Second Round
2000–01 Kentucky 24–10 12–4 T–1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2001–02 Kentucky 22–10 10–6 T–2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2002–03 Kentucky 32–4 16–0 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2003–04 Kentucky 27–5 13–3 2nd NCAA Second Round
2004–05 Kentucky 28–6 14–2 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2005–06 Kentucky 22–13 9–7 6th NCAA Second Round
2006–07 Kentucky 22–12 9–7 4th NCAA Second Round
Kentucky: 263–83 (.760) 120–40 (.750)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten Conference) (2007–2013)
2007–08 Minnesota 20–14 8–10 6th NIT First Round
2008–09 Minnesota 22–11 9–9 T–7th NCAA First Round
2009–10 Minnesota 21–14 9–9 6th NCAA First Round
2010–11 Minnesota 17–14 6–12 9th
2011–12 Minnesota 23–15 6–12 T–9th NIT Runner-up
2012–13 Minnesota 21–13 8–10 T–7th NCAA Third Round
Minnesota: 124–81 (.605) 46–62 (.426)
Texas Tech Red Raiders (Big 12 Conference) (2013–present)
2013–14 Texas Tech 14–18 6–12 9th
2014–15 Texas Tech 13–19 3–15 10th
2015–16 Texas Tech 15–9 5–7
Texas Tech: 42–46 (.477) 14–34 (.292)
Total: 553–272 (.670)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

U.S. Olympic Basketball[edit]

Smith was selected to help coach the 2000 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team in Sydney. He served as an assistant to then-Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich as the Americans captured the gold medal.

Other leadership groups[edit]

Smith serves on the NCAA Committee to study basketball issues, joining Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and former Oregon head coach Ernie Kent.

He serves on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors and in June 2000, spoke at a Congressional hearing on the issue of gambling in college sports.[31]

Personal life[edit]

When he coached at Kentucky, Smith was very active in the Lexington community. The Tubby Smith Foundation, which he established to assist underprivileged children, raised over $1.5 million in five years.[32] Smith and his wife, Donna, are still active with The TSF in Lexington even though they no longer live in the area. Also, several community centers in the greater Lexington area bear the moniker "Tubby's Klubhouse" due to his work within the centers.[33]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Coach Bio: Tubby Smith :: Men's Basketball". UKAthletics.com. University of Kentucky. Retrieved 2007-04-01. 
  2. ^ "Men's College Coach of the Year". NaismithAwards.com. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  3. ^ "Kentucky's Smith Wins Phelan Award". CollegeInsider.com. 2005-04-04. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  4. ^ a b c "Tubby Smith bio". University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics. 2005-06-13. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  5. ^ "Texas Tech to hire Tubby Smith as basketball coach". Texas Tech University. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Lopresti, Mike (2009-03-14). "Gophers' Smith on brink of NCAA berth with fourth school". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  7. ^ "G.G. Smith". Loyola College. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  8. ^ "Brian Smith". University of Mississippi. Retrieved 2007-01-12. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Gophers throw away sure tournament bid". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  10. ^ Wilstein, Steve (2003-03-20). "Sweet redemption for UK's Smith". The Cincinnati Post. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  11. ^ "Kentucky, High Point Game Notes". Scout.com. 2005-11-28. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  12. ^ "Former Ram Now Prowls Wildcat Sideline". Virginia Commonwealth University. 2006-01-05. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  13. ^ Mosolgo, Eric (1998-02-19). "The nomadic coach: Felton leaves Oregon to work with a friend in Lexington". The Kentucky Kernel. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  14. ^ "Smith assembles UK staff". The Kentucky Post (Associated Press) (E. W. Scripps Company). 1997-06-18. Archived from the original on 2005-11-04. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  15. ^ "Tubby Smith – 2002 Keynote". Rotary Club of Tulsa. Retrieved 2007-01-12. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Smith Is Leaving Tulsa To Coach at Georgia". The New York Times. 1995-03-30. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  17. ^ "Tubby Smith 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Assistant Coach". USA Basketball. Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  18. ^ "NCAA Game Summary - Ohio State vs. Florida". Miami.com. April 2, 2007. Retrieved April 2, 2007. 
  19. ^ Davis, Ken. "Tubby should keep job, despite spoiled fans". MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  20. ^ Evans, Thayer (2007-03-17). "Bluegrass Controversy". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  21. ^ ESPN – Smith leaving Kentucky to coach Minnesota – Men's College Basketball. Sports.espn.go.com (2007-03-23). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  22. ^ http://www.kentucky.com/2013/08/20/2776958_tubby-smith-discusses-kentucky.html
  23. ^ Durkin, Michael (2007-03-22). "Tubby Smith to Coach Gophers". Minnesota Fox 9 News. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  24. ^ Monson resigns as coach at Minnesota – Men's College Basketball – ESPN. Sports.espn.go.com (2006-11-30). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  25. ^ Howatt, Glenn – "Quick, find the 1,425 people who earn more than the guv" Star Tribune, July 17, 2008. "The highest paid include county attorneys and medical examiners, a zoo director, state treatment center medical workers and more than 800 university professors. And earning the most among this group was Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith at $1 million."
  26. ^ Coaches are highest paid at University of Minnesota | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota. Grand Forks Herald (2012-12-16). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  27. ^ Q&A with Tubby Smith: I'm sure there's something we could have done differently'. StarTribune.com (2011-04-18). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  28. ^ Tubby Smith contract extension includes $2.5M buyout max – NCAA Basketball – SI.com. Sportsillustrated.cnn.com (2012-08-03). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  29. ^ Tubby Smith out at Minnesota. cbssports.com (2013-03-25). Retrieved on 2013-03-25.
  30. ^ USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2013/04/01/texas-tech-hires-tubby-smith-as-new-coach/2043327/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ Biography of Tubby Smith for Appearances, Speaking Engagements, Endorsements Talent Agent. Allamericanspeakers.com (2007-03-23). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  32. ^ Warren, Jim. (2008-11-08) Tubby's gone, charitable commitment remains | Latest Local, State News. Kentucky.com. Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  33. ^ Tubby's Klubhouses. LexingtonKy.gov (2011-03-03). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.

External links[edit]