Tubby Smith introduced as next Texas Tech men's basketball coach
Tubby Smith, one of the most successful and respected coaches in the game, has agreed to a six-year contract with Texas Tech that will make him the 16th head basketball coach in school history. Smith arrives at Texas Tech with 22 years of head coaching experience where he has amassed a 511-226 career record at the likes of Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia and Tulsa. In that time, he has claimed a National Championship (Kentucky in 1997-98), made four Elite Eight appearances, nine Sweet Sixteen appearances and has posted 20-or-more victories in 19 seasons while making 17 trips to the NCAA Tournament.
"Tubby Smith is a leader with proven experience that will bring success and stability as our head coach," Kirby Hocutt said. "He is a tremendous role model, educator and coach and I am thrilled to welcome him and his wife Donna to the Red Raider family."
Smith comes to Lubbock after six seasons at Minnesota where he led the Golden Gophers to three NCAA Tournament appearances, and two trips to the National Invitation Tournament, including a runner-up finish in 2012, and six victories over top-10 ranked teams. Prior to Smith's arrival, Minnesota had not defeated a top 10 team in almost three seasons.
"This is a great day for Texas Tech basketball. I'm delighted that Coach Smith and Donna are joining the Red Raider family," Interim President Lawrence Schovanec said. "I want to thank Kirby Hocutt for his diligence in bringing to Texas Tech a coach of Tubby Smith's stature. I offer my gratitude to President Nellis for his leadership and guidance in bringing this search to a successful conclusion, and to Chancellor Hance for his support of the process."
"I am proud, as one of my first official duties as president at Texas Tech, to welcome Tubby Smith and his family to Lubbock," newly appointed President Duane Nellis said. "Coach Smith's resume and record represent a distinguished career as one of the all-time coaching greats in college basketball, and I am confident in his abilities to lead our program. I want to commend Kirby (Hocutt) and Dr. Schovanec for conducting a thorough and exhaustive search and keeping me apprised every step of the way."
Smith ended his career at Minnesota with a 124-81 overall record, marking the eighth Gophers head coach to reach the 100-win plateau. He led the Gophers to five 20-plus win seasons during that time after inheriting a program that had won just nine games the season prior to his arrival.
In his final season at Minnesota, Smith guided the Gophers to their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1990 as No. 11 seed Minnesota topped No. 6 seed UCLA, 83-63, before falling to eventual Elite Eight participant Florida in the third round.
Smith guided Minnesota back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 in just his second season, as his 2008-09 squad sprinted out to a 12-0 non-conference record, the fifth-best start in program history. The team went on to win nine games during the Big Ten Conference schedule, added an opening round victory in the conference tournament and was awarded a 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
With a 22-11 record that year, Smith became the first Minnesota coach to lead the Gophers to consecutive 20-win seasons in school history. It was also just the ninth time in school history the program reached the 20-win plateau.
Smith continued his success the following year with 21 victories and Minnesota's first-ever trip to the championship game of the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Minnesota garnered a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament, its second-straight tournament berth, which was a feat that had not previously been accomplished in back-to-back seasons since the 1993-94 and 1994-95 campaigns that were later vacated.
In his first season at Minnesota, Smith took a team that had won nine games the season before to a 20-14 record. The 11-game improvement marked the largest season turnaround in school history and tied for the second-best turnaround in Division I during the 2007-08 campaign.
It was the first of five 20-plus win seasons for Smith in Minneapolis as the Gophers also went 23-15 in 2011-12 with a runner-up finish at the NIT Postseason Tournament.
Smith came to Minnesota with a reputation for winning at the highest level not matched by many coaches in the country. His 407 wins entering the 2008-09 season was the sixth-best record of any head coach in their first 17 years in NCAA Division I basketball, joining such names as Roy Williams, Denny Crum, Jim Boeheim, Nolan Richardson and Jerry Tarkanian.
Prior to arriving in Big Ten Country, Smith spent 10 seasons (1997-2007) in the Southeastern Conference as the head coach at the University of Kentucky. During his tenure with the Wildcats, Smith led Kentucky to the 1998 NCAA National Championship, four Elite Eight appearances, five SEC titles, five SEC Tournament titles and six Sweet Sixteen finishes.
Smith led the Wildcats to an overall record of 263-83, a .760 winning percentage which ranks third in program history only behind Adolph Rupp and Rick Pitino among coaches with a tenure of at least three seasons. He averaged over 26 wins per season en route to becoming the third-longest tenured coach all-time at Kentucky.
During that time, Smith was 120-40 in SEC play for a .750 winning percentage. His 120 wins were 14 more than any other program in the SEC had during Smith's decade of dominance. He finished in sole possession or tied for first in the SEC East in seven of the 10 years and was 24-7 in SEC Tournament games.
During his first season in Lexington, Smith became the first coach since Cincinnati's Ed Jucker in 1961 to win a national title in his first year, as the Wildcats overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to top Utah, 78-69, for the 1998 NCAA Championship. It was the third straight second-half comeback for the Wildcats, who had previously trailed Duke in the regional finals and then Stanford in the national semifinals.
The Wildcats closed the year 35-4 overall, the first of two 30-plus win seasons for Smith at Kentucky. During his remaining nine seasons, Smith's teams finished with 20-or-more victories and advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament each year.
Smith moved to Kentucky following two seasons at fellow SEC counterpart Georgia where he led the Bulldogs to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years in his first season. Georgia finished 21-10 in his inaugural 1995-96 season and advanced to the Sweet 16, the furthest the Bulldogs had advanced previously since 1983.
Georgia upended Clemson and No. 1 seed Purdue on its way to the Sweet 16 where a last-second shot by Syracuse ended the Bulldogs season. Syracuse later advanced to the NCAA Championship game where it fell to Kentucky.
After losing eight seniors and all five starters from that Sweet 16 team, Smith led a young Georgia team to a 24-9 record that matched the school's single-season record for most wins. The Bulldogs finished the 1996-97 season third in the SEC with a 10-6 league record and eventually advanced to the SEC Tournament Championship game for the first time since 1998.
Georgia finished the year ranked 17th in the final AP poll and earned a No. 3 seed in the Southeast Regional. It was the first time in school history that Georgia had recorded 20-plus wins in consecutive seasons.
Following assistant coaching stops at Virginia Commonwealth, South Carolina and Kentucky, Smith got his first head coaching opportunity in 1991 at Tulsa where he totaled a 79-43 record over four seasons with two trips to the Sweet 16. He led the Golden Hurricane to the Missouri Valley Conference championship in both 1994-95 thanks in part to back-to-back 20-win seasons.
Tulsa went 23-8 and 24-8 in his final two seasons, marking what was then the third-highest victory total in school history. Smith was named the MVC's Coach of the Year following both seasons.
Smith has been named a conference coach of the year on five different occasions during his career as he was also honored by the SEC following the 1997-98, 2002-03, and 2004-05 seasons. He was also named the National Coach of the Year following each of those seasons as well.
Not only has Smith had elite success, but he has prepared his players to have all the skills necessary to make the jump to the next level. Smith has sent 19 players to the NBA during his coaching career. That list includes 2008 NBA Champion Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics as well as Jodie Meeks, Chuck Hayes, Shandon Anderson, Nazr Mohammed, Tayshaun Prince, Scott Padgett, Jamaal Magloire, Kelenna Azubuike and Keith Bogans. Other Smith players to reach the NBA include Shea Seals, Wayne Turner, Michael Ruffin, Erik Daniels, Randolph Morris, Gerald Fitch, Jeff Sheppard, Joe Crawford and Michael Bradley.
The opportunity to play in the NBA was particularly sweet for Rondo, Prince and Anderson, who all realized the dream of winning NBA titles. Rondo was the starting point guard for the Celtics as they made their championship run in 2008 while Prince was an integral part of the 2004 NBA Champion Detroit Pistons. Anderson was part of a veteran group of players on the Miami Heat who claimed the 2006 NBA Championship.
Nine of the players Smith has sent to the NBA heard their names called on draft day. Rondo, Magloire, Mohammed, Padgett and Prince were each first round draft picks, while Anderson, Bogans, Meeks and Ruffin each went in the second round. Prince was also a member of the United States basketball team that won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
A 1973 graduate of High Point (N.C.) College, Smith was an all-conference performer as a senior before finishing his career as the seventh all-time leading scorer in school history. Smith, who earned his degree in health and physical education, was honored on Dec. 8, 2011, by his alma mater with a banner bearing his name that now hangs from the rafters at the Millis Center.
Smith is the sixth of 17 children raised on a rural farm in southern Maryland. He and his wife Donna, have three sons, a daughter-in-law and granddaughter: Orlando (G.G.) Smith, who is an assistant coach at Loyola College in Maryland and his wife Lorie and granddaughter Jayna Marie; Saul Smith, who previously worked under his father as an assistant coach at Minnesota; and Brian Smith, an Ole Miss graduate, who is presently working as an assistant athletic director, boys basketball coach and physical education teacher at Rancho Solano Private Schools in Peoria, Ariz.
Information for this story from Texas Tech Athletics.