How could a coach with a 387-145 record, a career winning percentage of .727, and a national championship on his resume' be pushed out of his job?
That's, of course, what happened to
Tubby Smith, although he technically left
But almost everyone seems to think differently – that he was shoved out. Tubby the Man was almost universally loved in Bluegrass Country. In a statewide newspaper survey a couple of years ago, an astounding 98 percent of Kentuckians expressed a favorable opinion of him.
However, very few fans in the United State of Basketball were happy with Tubby the Coach.
This is proof that Wildcat fans are
the most spoiled and out-of-touch with reality: In a decade at
At any place other than
Here's the case that Wildcat fans had a right to be disappointed in a coach they pay $2.1 million a year: Kentucky hasn't returned to the Final Four since the title team of '98, Smith's first year at UK when he inherited Rick Pitino's talent, making for the longest Kentucky drought without reaching the championship round since the inception of the NCAA tournament; a fourth-place division finish this year and an eighth seed – hardly the kind of glory that signifies Kentucky basketball; five seasons with 10 or more defeats in Kentucky's last eight seasons; 25 defeats in the last two seasons; and not a single national top 25 recruit in three years, while other SEC programs like Tennessee and Florida are prospering with athletes like Chris Lofton and Corey Brewer who wanted to play for the 'Cats but weren't seriously recruited.
Average at best, by
There's a direct correlation between 23,000 filled seats every game night and the expectations of Wildcat fans. They provide fabulous support, and they want constant contenders and occasional championships.
Although this comparison is between
apples and oranges because college baseball can't hold a candle to college
basketball in interest or money, go back one year. The disappointment with Smith
No one could sanely be expected to
successfully follow Skip Bertman's program, with five national championships in
the era of 11 scholarships.
On paper, that is.
Getting a college baseball team to two CWS in a five-year span usually results in a raise.
And LSU's standards in baseball had gone through the roof. Being pretty good was no longer acceptable. Neither was a coach who thought a winning record made him bulletproof despite alienating fans and media. It wasn't. Not with a new stadium on the horizon.
Glittering records weren't enough
Not without championship banners.
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@Bellsouth.net.