"We're Committed to Him"

That's what AD Joel Maturi said about Coach Tubby Smith as the latest rumors circulated about the Minnesota coach looking at other offers. I'll leave the rest of the rumors to other sites, but I'd like to concentrate on what Maturi's statement actually means.

With the hiring of Tubby Smith, Maturi and U President Robert Bruininks indicated that they were going to take seriously--finally--competing in men's basketball. They had to make two hires two years ago, and they put all of their chips on the basketball program, hoping that the inexperienced Tim Brewster and a pending new football stadium would pump life into the football program.

The point I want to make here is that committment to a successful major division athletics program in the money making sports of basketball and football takes more than a decision to hire one man. It takes a broader committment.

Not long after Tubby Smith arrived in Minneapolis, we heard the new coach talk about the need for a practice facility. Notice I didn't write "new" practice facility. The men's basketball team practices in Williams Arena. How long did it take Maturi and Bruininks to get around to start talking publicly about pursuing a facility to keep us up with the basketball Jonses? Nearly two years. The first we heard about Maturi's desire to form a fundraising committee was within the last month.

That's not committment. That's procrastination.

"We're happy with him, he's happy with us, I think he'll be our coach tomorrow. I'm not going to run down the hall every time his name comes up for other jobs. We're committed to him. He knows that. I don't have to be more committed in 10 minutes than I am now. We're happy he's here. We're going to do what's necessary to hopefully keep him here and build a championship program. I'm comfortable we're going to do that."

We're all happy with Tubby Smith and glad he's the coach here. But my point here is that it takes more than one hire to build a basketball program. It takes a commitment. Maybe that means fundraising for a new facility. Maybe that means a larger recruiting budget or the ability to hire the Director of Basketball Operations of your choosing. Maybe that means (gasp!) contemplating a new state-of-the-art arena.

Message to Joel Maturi: Whether Tubby Smith stays for 10 years or 1 more, I hope all that is necessarry to build a championship level program is being considered and acted upon appropriately. Until then, being "committed" to something is nothing more than hyperbole.

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