Texas Tech is still looking for a new head coach for its basketball team. It just so happens recently fired Tubby Smith is still available for such a job and is reportedly the front-runner to land the position.
If Smith does move to Lubbock next season, it would be a great match for both sides.
ESPN's Jason King first reported that Smith and the Red Raiders met on Thursday, just days after the former Minnesota head coach was fired by new Golden Gopher athletic director Norwood Teague. Minnesota lost to Florida in the round of 32 in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Here's an excerpt from King's piece:
Athletic director Kirby Hocutt and chancellor Kent Hance flew to North Carolina on Wednesday evening to talk with Smith about the position, and Smith was spotted in Lubbock on Thursday evening at Texas Tech's athletic facility. It is unclear whether Smith has been offered the job or whether he would accept the position if an offer was extended.
Texas Tech's program has been going through quite the recession since Bob Knight opted to leave in 2008. The Red Raiders remain a steady presence in the Big 12 each year but haven't been to the Big Dance since 2007 and just completed their fourth losing season in five attempts.
Pat Knight, Billy Gillespie and Chris Walker have all unsuccessfully tried to right the ship in Lubbock, but none were able to provide a winning culture or stability at the head coaching position.
Enter Tubby Smith.
Smith has over 22 years of head coaching experience at the Division I level, most recently with Minnesota for the last six seasons. He had a winning record with the Golden Gophers (124-81) and won the first non-vacated tournament game in nearly two decades when Minnesota upset UCLA in the second round this year.
The 61-year-old Smith has also spent time at Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky, at the last school heading the team that won the 1998 NCAA National Championship. He has a career record of 511-226, is a noted name and despite some complaints about substitution patterns and recruiting oddities, his experience and basketball resume speaks for itself.
As noted by Eric Prisbell of USA Today, Smith was a marked man even before his Gophers lost to Florida in the round of 32. A six-year stay in Minnesota still produced only one tournament win, a number that new AD Teague wasn't keen to sell to boosters.
That doesn't mean Smith isn't a great fit in Lubbock.
While he won't inherit a talent-laden team, Smith would only lose one senior from the current roster. Top scorers Jordan Tolbert and Jaye Crockett are returning, and the fanbase in Lubbock is one of the most passionate in sports.
Smith would provide stability, a noted head coaching name and a reason for Texas Tech to get excited about basketball once more after missing the tournament for the sixth year in a row—coincidentally, the last time Smith was scooped up off the head coaching market by Minnesota.
While Smith might not be the most attractive option for a team that clearly has lost its way in the Big 12, his stability and knowledge would be a welcome sight for a team that has had three coaches in the last five seasons.
In the age of finding college basketball's "next great young coach," it's never surprising to see a team go young in attempt to build something special. That might be the way to go in Lubbock, but the Red Raiders would have a greater chance of competing next season by bringing Smith to town.
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