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Minnesota makes it official, formally fires Tubby Smith

Mar 25, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT

tubby-smith AP

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Tubby Smith has been officially fired by Minnesota.

The university announced that Smith, who has been at the school since the 2007-08 season, has been relieved of his duties as head coach.

Smith issued a statement in the release on the school’s website.

“I want to thank the University of Minnesota and the people of Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to lead the Golden Gopher basketball program for six years,” said Smith. “Our staff did things the right way and will leave knowing that the program is in far better shape than when we arrived. The people of the State of Minnesota embraced Donna and me from the beginning and we will always be grateful.”

Smith had a record of 124-81 overall at Minnesota, but he was just 26-42 in Big Ten play and had his program become synonymous with February collapses. He made three NCAA tournaments and won his first tournament game this season, but lost 78-64 to No. 3 seed Florida on Sunday.

Smith came to Minnesota from Kentucky in 2007, where he won the 1998 national title. But a lack of on-court success and victories on the recruiting trail eventually did him in.

“Tubby has had a long and distinguished career and we feel it’s time for a fresh set of eyes for our student-athletes and our program in general,” Athletic Director Norwood Teague said in a statement. “We are grateful to Tubby and his entire staff for their hard work and dedication to this University, our students and the entire Minnesota community. We wish Tubby, Donna and the entire staff well.”

A previous report from Jeff Goodman of, first broke the news that Smith had been fired after six years as head coach.

Three notes to think about as Minnesota begins their search for a head coach at the same time that UCLA and USC will be looking:

– Norwood Teague, Minnesota’s AD, and Mike Ellis, Minnesota’s assistant AD, arrived at Minnesota from VCU. At VCU, they hired Shaka Smart. I doubt that Shaka would turn down UCLA, where he appears to be the favorite, for Minnesota, when he already shot down Illinois, but I’m sure the Teague and Ellis will make a run at him.

– Ellis runs Villa 7, which is a networking project that connects elite assistant coaches with athletic directors around the country. It’s how guys like Smart, Josh Pastner, Buzz Williams and Dave Rice, among 90 or so others, got their head coaching gigs. He’s connected.

– Minnesota might actually a better job than people realize. The state produces quite a bit of hoops talent, and it’s the only Division I program in the state. There are facilities and money and a fanbase. The only problem? There may also be a limit to how good the program can be. With the likes of Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the Big Ten, the Gophers will never be among the elite in their own conference, let alone in the country. Tubby Smith won 20 games in five of the six years he was a head coach and made three NCAA tournaments. Before he was hired, the Gophers had been to the tournament once since 1999 and won 20 games once since 1998.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. staff2cj - Mar 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Looks like Flip Saunders is on the way!!!!

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      why would Shaka go to Minnesota?

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Flip will not take this job.

      • swede700 - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        Flip absolutely would take the job, if offered. I don’t expect them to offer him the job, however.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:50 PM

        Flip absolutely wants the job. He’s said so. I don’t think he’s on Teague’s short list though

  2. mnwildfan15 - Mar 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Flip or Shaka anyone else will be hated from the start.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Shaka will fart on Minnesota.

  3. jcmeyer10 - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    I joked with my Dad (a Gopher) that they were going to can Tubby at the half. Wasn’t that far off.

  4. bballnut50 - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Please, rob. The gophers will have Smart…our history is much better then half the big ten team you mention, you always have been a Gopher hater..

    • bigmeechy74 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      Please tell me that English isn’t your first language

  5. mogogo1 - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Best of luck to the next guy. Is Minnesota really such a powerhouse program that 124-81 isn’t pretty darn good? They’ve got no real long-term history of success, their facilities are so-so by Big 10 standards. This simply isn’t a top destination for any major coach or recruit.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      Anybody can beat team such as Cupcake U, Name your direction here name your state here University here, and name any other irrelevant school here 124 times.

      The real record is 26-42 vs

      Ohio State. Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

      When the BEST you can finish is 6th in that conference, change needs to be made

      • mogogo1 - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        Actually, if you look at their record before Tubby Smith, it’s clear that not ANYBODY could beat Cupcake U. And looking at the Big 10 over the past few years, it’s not terribly realistic to have expected them to have been much higher than 6th.

        Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State… All of those schools have been very good and all of them have had far more historic success than Minnesota. Which of them was Minnesota supposed to overtake?

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        Well when your a “big name” coach like Tubby is allegedly, finishing higher than 6th just once isn’t asking all that much. Tubby himself came out and said this was his best team here. He finished 9th.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:06 AM

        Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State… All of those schools have been very good and all of them have had far more historic success than Minnesota. Which of them was Minnesota supposed to overtake?
        Those schools you named haven’t always been good since Tubby Smith was here:

        2007-08 Minnesota was 20-14 (8-10 in conference 6th place).
        Michigan was 10-22 (5-13 in conference). Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State finished ahead of them. Minnesota started out 10-1, that makes them finishing 10-13. Maybe we should look at them losing to Illiniois twice who finished 5-13 in the big 10, and losing to them again in the conference tournament. Or maybe Tubby going 1-7 vs ranked teams.

        2008-09 Minnesota was 22-11 (9-9 in conference 7th place)
        Michigan finished 21-14 (tied 9-9 in conference), Indiana finished 6-25 (1-17 in conference). How about Minnesota starting out 16-1 and finished the season 5-10. How aabout Michigan beating them twice. Or maybe Tubby going 3-5 vs ranked teams.

        2009-10 Minnesota was 21-14 (9-9 in conference 6th place)
        Finished ahead of Michigan 15-17 (7-11 in conference) and Indiana 10-21 (4-14). Let’s talk about the Gophers starting 12-4 and finishing 9-10, with an improbable 3-1 run in the conference tournament. They finish 6-9 if you take that out. How about a losses to Northwestern (7-11 in conference), two losses to Michigan (7-11), and Indiana (4-14). Prehaps you want to talk about a non-conference loss to Portland. Or maybe Tubby going 4-6 vs ranked teams.

        2010-11 Minnesota was 17-14 (6-12 in conference 9th place)
        Finished ahead of Indiana on your list. Should we talk about the Gophers starting out 11-1 and finishing 6-13? Maybe you wanna talk about the Gophers losing 10 of their last 11 games? How about Indiana beating them who finished 3-15 in conference? Or you wanna discuss their 2-5 record vs ranked teams.

        2011-12 Minnesota was 23-15 (6-12 in conference 9th place)
        Didn’t finish ahead of anybody on your list. But more impressive, how about a loss to Illinois (6-12 in conference). Maybe Tubby losing 7 of his last 9 conference games looks good. Or how about Tubby’s 1-8 record vs ranked teams?

        2012-13 Minnesota was 21-13 (8-10 in conference tied for 7th place)
        Gophers started out 15-1 and finished 6-12, when Tubby came out and said this was his best team he’s had here. Again didn’t finish ahead of anybody on your list. But their losses to Nebraska (5-13 in conference) and Northwestern (4-14) look good. But at least Tubby finished 5-5 vs ranked teams.

        In Tubby’s time here finishing 6th, 7th, 6th, 9th, 9th, and 7th doesn’t and shouldn’t impress anybody.

        In Tubby’s time here going 46-62 in Big 10 play and never finishing over .500 doesn’t and shouldn’t impress anybody

        In Tubby’s time here going 16-36 vs top 25 team doesn’t and shouldn’t impress anybody

        Finishing 149th in division 1 in Points per game doesn’t and shouldn’t impress anybody

        If Smith couldn’t finish better than ninth in the Big Ten with his best team in six seasons, what does that say about his coaching?

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        I was going to make a comment about being somewhat surprised at the firing due to all the 20 win seasons. Then…I read your post with the season-by-season break down.
        Good work Man. You sold me.

      • mogogo1 - Mar 26, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        Awesome breakdown year by year. I now totally concede there was arguable reasons to let him go. But let’s not miss the fact he made them consistently FAR better than they’d been before and if the expectation level is going to be a winning records versus ranked teams, it’s going to be an extremely tough job for his successor.

      • kingghidora - Mar 26, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        Didn’t Minn. pay a huge salary to Smith because he was such a great coach and he would lead them to the promised land of milk and honey and Big 10 titles? He I remember when Ohio St. wasn’t part of the winning half of Big 10 basketball. It wasn’t that long ago. A single coach changed their fortunes. But that’s impossible at MN without a national championship caliber coach – wait a minute – they hired one that was supposed to be that good. Now people say it was an impossible job. Then why the heck did they give him all that money? To lose? Because that’s what he did. But well know the real truth. The fan base had expectations that were just too high and they were all a bunch of racists. That’s why Smith was fired at UK even though he actually quit.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:18 AM


        I’m taking unbridge with your other statment:

        Awesome breakdown year by year. I now totally concede there was arguable reasons to let him go. But let’s not miss the fact he made them consistently FAR better than they’d been before and if the expectation level is going to be a winning records versus ranked teams, it’s going to be an extremely tough job for his successor.

        No, Tubby did NOT make them consistently FAR better. Tubby was hired here and came with expectations he would bring the program up and above where they were when he was hired.

        Dan Monson was hired in 1999 (except Mike and Mike on ESPN radio, seem to forget that since, they think Tubby replaced Clem Haskins). Dan Monson’s numbers are very similiar to what Tubby Smith posted here:

        Dan Monson’s overall record was 118-105 .529 winning %
        Tubby Smitih’s overall record was 124-81 .605 winning %

        not a whole lot of difference. keep in mind, Dan Monson took over a team that lost everything due to an academic scandal, that even cost Minnesota their 1997 Final Four run that finished 31-4.

        It’s just not his overall record that is similar. Look at their Big 10 conference records

        Dan Monson’s Big 10 record was 44-67
        Tubby Smith’s Big 10 record was 46-62

        Dan Monson’s run here was considered a disaster, Tubby Smith’s run is considered one as well.

  6. pacific123ocean - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    It sucks when anybody gets fired. I hope Tubby gets a TV job.

    I have no clue who they will hire, but, it is clear that Teague and Ellis have a proven track record of hiring good BBall coaches.

    • indyshepherd - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:50 PM

      Wonderboy Brad Stevens should already be on his way.

  7. sdb74 - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Shaka turned down Illinois last year. No way he goes to Minnesota. Illinois is a WAY better job than Minnesota.

    • swede700 - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Illinois is not a better job than Minnesota. They are pretty much equals. But, I do agree that Shaka will not be coaching there.

  8. ebrownwareagle - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Absolutely TERRIBLE!! I HATE when someone comes from the trailer park and complain there Mansion isn’t big enuff. Get a grip MINN. 5 out of 6 season with 20+ Wins and fired… Stop It!!

    • swede700 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Have you watched the team play? The 20+ wins 5 out of 6 years is very deceptive, as most of the wins came outside of the conference. They couldn’t compete within the conference, and that likely wasn’t going to change. Don’t forget that 2 of those 20+ wins seasons ended them up in the NIT. Don’t confuse 20+ wins with being “successful.”

    • kingghidora - Mar 26, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      But Smith was the great coach who was hired to make the Gophers a national power just like he did at UK. Everyone knew UK was just a bunch of racists that didn’t support Smith. That’s why he lost there. Just ask him. Better yet just ask Dick Vitale:

      • kingghidora - Mar 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        So I guess he wasn’t “accepted” after all. I guess the fans didn’t like losing when they should have won there either. Vitale glossed over the blowout home court losses to teams like Florida and blowout losses on the road to Kansas and Indiana and those blowouts I mentioned were all in ONE YEAR. Yeah the fans caused him to lose by 15 at home to Florida when they had been down by as many as 21 earlier in the game before Donovan called off the Gators. And those unrealistic expectations of UK fans? They don’t look so unrealistic to me right now. With a title from last season and maybe the best college basketball team of all time coming in next year and countless first round draft picks (which just means they had a ton of talent there) and a string of top recruiting classes (where Smith could recruit zero 5 star players at the end). I think Vitale owes those “unrealistic” UK fans a big apology. Smith wasn’t loved for losing at Minn. because every team wants to win. They don’t show up just to see the pretty colors and watch the cheerleaders and harass opposing teams. Well they used to do that in Bloomington but that seems to have changed for now. Minn. fans actually expected to win especially given the high salary they paid Smith. Yet the great family man failed there no doubt due to all you racists MN fans. Smith said it best:

  9. jebdamone - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    we have a better chance at landing Shaka. no chance flip takes the job, he’s going to take over david khan’s job w/ the twolves.

  10. barnesaintnoble - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    What facilities? The Barn is iconic, yes but it’s so old. And they don’t have a practice facility that most other schools in the Big Ten have. Nebraska has one of the best facilities (and a new arena coming) in the nation, and they suck! They aren’t even the best college basketball team in the state! (Creighton) The only plus to Minnesota Basketball and Football facility wise is that Buffalo Wild Wings is right outside the barn.

  11. jaxhotspur11 - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    The administration at Minnesota is delusional. Who do they think thay are gonna get that is better than Tubby? When they try to get top candidates to interview, they will be made to understand just where they are in the pecking order.

    Tubby’s a dang good coach who was happy to be at Minnesota and wasn’t going to jump to a bigger job – he’s been there and done that. Any coach that they hire will either fail or use the job as a stepping stone. Any coach who wants the job will be young and unproven, or experienced with warts. If you have a guy like Tubby at a school like Minnesota, you ride him until he retires. It was a huge coup when they hired him. What a huge mistake to fire him after he just got them to the 2nd round of the dance.

    This reminds me of Va. Tech firing Seth Greenburg last year.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      Apparently you didn’t watch one minute of Gopher bball. The team won in spite of Tubby.

  12. packhawk04 - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Congratulations to tubby smith, who has the same number of ncaa tourney wins in the same number of years as tommy amaker.

    At harvard.

  13. greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    I just love how people come on here an be so misinformed.

    Yes, winning 20 games in 5 of 6 seasons isn’t acceptable. The Gophers were what, 21-12 this season? Don’t forget they were 15-1 and ranked 8th in January. Possibly a # 2 seed. Look how they finished.

    Tubby’s best finish was 6th in the conference. Not acceptable.

    He won 26 games in his time in Minnesota. Not acceptable.

    Made the tournament 3 years in his tenure and won 1 game vs a ucla team that quit on their coach. Not acceptable.

    As far as people who think Minnesota has no chance at Shaka, Shaka and Norwood Teague are still close friends and talk all time.

    As far as people who think Minnesota has no chance at Flip Saunders, he’s willing to put up money for a practice facility. Look at his twitter feed, he was basically coach throughout the big 10 tourney. Flip has no reason to go back to the NBA. He’s made his money.

    There is also a report there is a verbal agreement with a coach.

  14. iowahbr - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    tubby got the shaft. Was he supposed to train polar bears to play basketball. Guys in suits who have never played or even recruited will regret this as much as UCLA will regret the Howland firing.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      Train polar bears to play badketball?

      How about training the “polar bears to play basketball” that HE recruited

    • kingghidora - Mar 26, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      He was supposed to recruit actual talent. He got paid big bucks to do it. He failed. I can’t imagine why they thought he would succeed when he couldn’t get it done with the might of the Big Blue Nation behind him. Oh wait. They were against him. They wanted to give back that championship and ask the NCAA to investigate just so they could keep on losing. UK has always liked to lose.

  15. sdb74 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Illinois is a way better job than Minnesota & it’s not close. Champaign & Chicago have a ton of talent. The 5 best jobs in the Big 10 are IU, MSU, Mich, Illinois, & OSU. Not much debate on that. Numbers 6-9 are Wisc, Minn, Purdue, & Iowa. You can argue the order but Iowa should be last of that group.

    • kingghidora - Mar 26, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      Have you paid attention to how well Purdue has done over the past 3 decades? Apparently not. That’s one of the top basketball schools in the Big 10 with multiple to 5 rankings over the past decade alone. I was in Columbus when Ohio St. was ranked #1 and Purdue was ranked #3 and half an hour before game time there were still tickets available. Every radio station in town was trying to get people to go out to watch the game. I got within a block of the Schotenstein when they announced the tickets had finally sold out. But the point is Purdue was a top team at the time. They have been a top team going back to the 7 time Big Ten Coach of the Year, Gene Keady days. He became the second winningest coach in Big 10 history winning 6 Big 10 titles. He coached there until 2005. Yeah Purdue is in the bottom half of the league – NOT!

  16. huskylawyer - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    I guess Minn prefers to be irrelevant.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      Minnesota was irrelevant with Tubby Smith

  17. sdb74 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Sorry meant Peoria for talent, not Champaign.

  18. mnwildfan15 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    Please someone tell me what tubby has done as a head coach anyways?? Yes he won a national title BUT they weren’t his recruits he inherited a good team and got lucky. And what’s the big deal with a practice facility?? All you need is a gym, a ball, and a hoop. Most normal people just need a hoop and a ball.

  19. sdb74 - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    What’s the deal with a practice facility?? Are you serious? A practice facility is huge in 2013 college hoops. You almost have to have facilities nowadays. If not, your behind the 8 ball big time.

    • kingghidora - Mar 26, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      Smith had maybe the best facilities in the nation at UK. He still couldn’t get it done.

  20. ruvelligwebuike - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Minnesota…just face reality. Spend the money for a good coach on GLBT interpretive dance studios. This will go further to enhance your own self-titled “culture” and intellectual superiority, while leaving sports to states that can handle it.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      I’m pretty sure Minnesota would beat your hockey team. Men’s or woman’s, assuming your school actually has a team

  21. henryd3rd - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Clem Haskins is available.

  22. iamjimmyjack - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Shaka is a Trojan. Not a bruin. Everyone knows this.

  23. sdb74 - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    StLbaseball. Off topic but I tried to tell ya about Gonzaga. You shouldn’t have been shocked @ their early exit.

  24. masonicmuseum - Mar 26, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    20 games each year, how many were against a team anyone had heard of? A poor coach is now gone, now get a real coach. Perhaps someone who can get Minnesota high school players to come to the U. Let hope they do better than they did in hiring a football coach. We need a division one coach, not a junior college type.

  25. sdb74 - Mar 26, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    I get what you’re saying but Purdue has not made a Final 4 since 1980. Bottom line.

  26. rustywrh - Mar 28, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I think Norwood Teague is delusional as hell, and a bit of an ass! Tubby was right for Minnesota and, so far, it seems Teague is not!

  27. gusolie - Mar 31, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    I remember when Tubby Smith was brought on at Minnesota.

    Commentary online laughed at Minnesota for picking up a “plateau” coach in Smith. Kentuckians were saying that Smith couldn’t do sh*t and that his 1997 title was the result of his predecessor recruiting and creating the squad that took the national championship. Under Smith alone, Kentucky became the sinking Titanic. Why else would they be so happy to get rid of Smith?

    Minnesota got suckered into taking Smith under pipe dreams of future success. Sounds so much like the trades of old with the Vikings…hoping for their savior quarterback or wide receivers…

    Good riddance, Tubby.

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