Tubby Smith to Arkansas?
Here we go — it’s been about a day since John Pelphrey was dismissed as the head basketball coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks and rumors are flying all over the place.
Meanwhile, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported today that Arkansas is close to hiring Minnesota coach Tubby Smith. What does Smith say? Of course, he said he doesn’t plan on going anywhere, either. That, of course, is a complete shock as we all know that head coaches fully announce their intentions to leave for new jobs, right?
At any rate, Smith would be an intriguing choice, indeed. Why? Arkansas has had a track record of picking “up and comers” (both former basketball coaches Stan Heath and John Pelphrey fell into that category) or people who are completely unknown to those who aren’t college sports fanatics (former football coach Houston Nutt and Dana Altman — who was Arkansas’ head basketball coach for about a day before he fled Fayetteville and went back to Creighton University, for example).
Rarely have the Razorbacks pursued an established coach. That wasn’t the case with football Coach Bobby Petrino, who left the NFL in 2007 to take over for Nutt after he left Arkansas and took a job at Ole Miss. Smith, too, is an established coach.
That cat has a 467-198 lifetime coaching record and led the basketball-proud University of Kentucky for a decade. What’s more, he was an assistant coach for the 2000 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Arkansas will end up hiring Smith. Still, it’s encouraging to see that the Hogs are, apparently, going after top-notch coaching talent these days.
By the way, the AP reports that (surprise, surprise) Pelphrey doesn’t think he should have been fired from Arkansas. Apparently, the former coach doesn’t believe that four seasons was enough time to establish a program.
Pelphrey may have a point. Let’s hope, then, Arkansas not only hires a quality basketball coach, but gives him enough time to have a shot at building a solid program. Hopefully every Razorbacks fan agrees that’s a good idea.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.