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Tubby Smith to Arkansas?

By: 14 March 2011 6 Comments

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.

We’ve heard about the possibility of Missouri head coach Mike Anderson taking the job for a couple of weeks now and he has, of course, denied that he plans on going anywhere.

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.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =


  • Wilf said:

    So, Tubby is a has been of the elite coaches and finished w/ a worse record than Pelphrey. I can’t see the recruiting getting any better. Anderson would be crazy to leave Mizzou; though they’ve been good, they’ve not reached the pinnacle that would put Anderson at the elite level. He’s capable, but would really be gambling his future by going back to where he was rejected and would not have any of the momentum he has going at Missouri, of which he probably needs to prove a little more.

    If Anderson decides he wants the challenge (some live for that), he needs to rethink the defense. In the day, 40 minutes of hell was unique and teams were off guard for it. The pressing defenses have made the offenses that much better in transition, and the pendulum has swung away from it being so dominating over the better teams. Defense needs to be multi-faceted, built on man-to-man, but ready for switching to anything in keeping the offenses off balance. Players who have the best man up skills will also be the best zone players if taught well, and these combinations will help to contain the great individual skills that are out there.

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    Good point about Anderson — and Tubby Smith. I’ll be very clear on this — I would have loved to see Pelphrey stick around for a bit more to see what he could do with that phenomenal recruiting class he’s got coming next season. That’s doubly true when one considers how many chances a certain head football coach was given after turning in one disappointing season after another.

    Regardless, Pelphrey’s time here is over. I just hope that the next coach — regardless of who it is — is given time to establish his own program and then be judged based on that. Coaches need time. Give it to them.

  • Doug said:

    PLEASE take Tubby! He’s a washed up “has-been” who doesn’t seem to know how to coach late in games, blames his players, and can’t seem to handle his players off the court.



    A Gopher Fan

  • Sideline Guy said:

    Frank Martin in the guy, the hogs need to pursue. Tubby Smith couldn’t find a job after Kentucky and settled for the Gophers job. Image a guy with such a great resume, not going to an elite program back then. Something is up with that. Anderson is a great short term fix, but it remains to be seen if he can go long term.

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    Frank Martin, huh? Interesting choice…

    I agree that we need someone long term. Arkansas needs a coach that will last for awhile.

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