A few days ago, some jackwagon at ESPN wrote an article called “What if Michael Vick were white?” It basically says that being black defines Vick’s background, culture, and lifestyle, in regards to the jail time served for running a dogfighting ring. So that got me thinking about Tubby Smith. As the first black Kentucky coach, his hiring made some waves. Ten years later, so did his resignation, amidst the ever-growing clamor of a restless fanbase.
I can hear you now, saying that Tubby was killing the program, and that who cares, because he’s not here anymore. But if we as Kentucky fans can still hate Laettner 19 years later for [STRIKE]being a douchenozzle[/STRIKE] stepping on a guy and hitting a game-winner, we can revisit the controversial era of one Tubby Smith.
[I][SIZE=1]“Come get some.”[/SIZE][/I]
Now, I’m not saying that all UK fans who disliked Tubby did so because of his skin color. I’m saying there were [I]some[/I] who disliked him because of it. To tell yourself otherwise would be foolish. Even today, in 2011, I hear racial insults about Joker Phillips, and this is 14 years after Tubby was hired! And, regardless of what your opinion of Tubby is/was, to say that he was anything less than a stellar, classy representative of UK is simply wrong. The man has no public black eyes against him, and he is pretty much the only UK coach other than Joe B. Hall who can say that.
So let’s get to it. I want those of you who are cussing me through your computer about how Tubby was a bad coach, and that race had nothing to do with it, to put your money where your mouth is. I’m going to give you stats of two different coaches for their time at Kentucky, and you tell me who is who.
Coach A: 75% overall winning percentage, 79% SEC winning percentage, 69% NCAA winning percentage (in 10 years of NCAA postseason play), 4 seasons of 10 or more losses.
Coach B: 76% overall winning percentage, 75% SEC winning percentage, 72% NCAA winning percentage (in 10 years), 5 seasons of 10 or more losses.
Give up? Coach B is Tubby Smith. But who is Coach A?
None other than the universally-loved Joe B. Hall himself.
In fairness, there were some who, in his last few seasons, thought Joe B. should retire. But take a look at those stats again. Nearly identical, no? Granted, Joe B. has [STRIKE]one[/STRIKE] two more Final Fours, but he also has two NIT appearances and one season of sitting home watching. Tubby only had one Final Four, but he never missed the tournament, and never had to play in the NIT.
Don’t take this to be a knock on Joe B. in any way. I love the man. I love what he did for the school, and what he does to this day. His coaching of the UK Legends recently was a wonderful thing to see. But, overall, his record is about the same as Tubby’s. Would Tubby get the same overwhelming standing ovation as Hall if he were to coach in Rupp Arena anytime soon? I don’t think he would. So what is the difference? Sure, Joe B. is a native Kentuckian, but so is Larry Flynt.
[SIZE=1][I]How could someone not love this man?[/I][/SIZE]
Both Joe B. and Tubby followed legendary coaches as well. Adolph Rupp was the man who basically built Kentucky basketball, but with the globalization and media scrutiny of the game in recent years, it could be said that Rick Pitino left bigger shoes to fill. Also, both guys were on the staff for the previous coach at some point, so it’s not like Tubby just came in off the street.
So why the dislike? It’s not to fair to blame it on his overall record, when Joe B.’s was nearly the same. I personally believe it was the lack of a second Final Four. While that is a valid reason to lose faith in a coach, especially at Kentucky, it is by no means a valid reason to pooh-pooh the entirety of his run here. If postseason performance is the be-all end-all, then what about the 3 seasons where Joe B. didn’t make the NCAA? We all know what happened the last time a UK coach failed to do that.
[SIZE=1][I]The epitome of class and leadership.[/I][/SIZE]
I’ve always thought that the worst mistake Tubby ever made in regards to coaching at UK was [STRIKE]being born black[/STRIKE] following Rick Pitino. Pitino took this school on a run the likes of which had never been seen before. In six years of post-season eligibility under Pitino, Kentucky played in the Final Four three times. And for those of you who think Tubby won his title with Pitino’s players, remember that Pitino himself couldn’t even do that the previous year.
[I][SIZE=1]Seriously, screw this guy.[/SIZE][/I]
So what is it, fellow fans? Why were we so glad to see Tubby go? Was it a failure to recruit? (Three All-Americans in 2004). Was it a failure to win? (76% winning percentage, never missed the tournament). Was it a lack of awareness off the court? (Find something bad to say about him. Go on, try it). Was it a lack of the right skin color, in a state historically viewed as backwards and racist? (……)
[I][SIZE=1]How everyone else sees us. (I didn’t know Rich Brooks was in that movie)[/SIZE][/I]
Feel free to disagree with me. That’s what I’m here for. But Tubby Smith’s tenure at UK was controversial at best. I just want to know, was it the record of the Kentucky coach that was the problem? Or was it the record of the [I]black[/I] Kentucky coach that was the problem?