Alright, so late last night Gary Williams announced that he is retiring from coaching basketball at Maryland. And, as usual, it didn't take long for the Tubby Smith rumors to flare up. This time I was guilty of linking him to the new opening and Dick Vitale has already endorsed Tubby as the one to succeed Williams.
"My choice would be Tubby Smith. Instant credibility, he's a winner, he's a guy who's a class guy," Vitale said. "There's never any problems in terms of the NCAA. I think personally, and he might not say this, but he's available. I think he would leave Minnesota. He has family still living in the Baltimore area, and I think he would leave to come to Maryland."
It has been well documented that when a BCS school has an opening, coach Smith's name automatically gets rumored as a good fit and likely candidate. Why? Because nobody can imagine that he'd ever want to stay in Minnesota. Alabama, Oregon, Missouri, Oklahoma and others have all been linked to Tubby but there was never anything other than smoke to these rumors.
But this one may have some fire. It has been rumored in the past that coaching in Maryland may be considered a "dream job" by Tubby. He doesn't have too many years of coaching left in him and this would be his only shot to coach back home.
Ultimately I do not think this marriage will happen for a couple reasons. The first is that just because this would be a desirable job for Tubby does not mean Maryland desires him. Smith is 60. While he has an established pedigree of success at various schools, Maryland would have to decide if they want to hire a guy who may not be on the sidelines much longer. Maryland would also have to take a good look at Smith's recent performance while at Minnesota. There is a large contingent of Gopher fans who wouldn't be terribly sad to see Smith leave. The records have been good but not great. And player transfers are unusually high. These are all things Maryland would have to consider.
Even if Maryland was interested, I'm still not 100% convinced that Tubby will leave. This is not a belief that Minnesota is just so perfect that nobody could ever leave this fine state. But I do believe that Tubby is a proud, confident and competitive man. There is unfinished business here. While he has managed to make a couple NCAA Tournaments, he hasn't finished at or near the top of the Big Ten and he hasn't won a post season game in his four years here. With some unfinished business here, would a man with Tubby's pride be willing to leave it this way? Maybe he looks at the progress the program has made differently than the fans.
I see this as another opportunity for him to try and leverage this opening for a more firm commitment towards a new practice facility. But chances are still greater than not that Tubby Smith will be on the William's Arena sideline next November.