I agree with most that Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt did an excellent job in the press conference this morning of providing us with details of how Tubby Smith ended up leaving for Memphis. You can watch his whole presser HERE.
I thought it would be good to also provide it in print for everyone to discuss, plus I wanted to give my thoughts. I feel that a timeline or sequence of events the way Hocutt did it was best so here it goes:
-Mar. 1: On the charter flight to Morgantown to play WVU, Hocutt sat next to Tubby and had a conversation in which according to Hocutt, he detailed Tech's appreciation for what Tubby had brought to the program and that it was his desire to keep him as the head coach until he chose to retire. Hocutt said Tubby assured him he and his wife Donna were happy in Lubbock and that he and Hocutt should meet privately to discuss the future of the program after the season.
My thoughts: This all sounds healthy and normal to me. Tech was coming off a tremendous month of hoops highlighted by the five-game Big 12 winning streak, plus the win over No. 2 OU made a return trip to the tourney a reality. Sounds solid all the way around.
-Mar. 18: Texas Tech returns home from Raleigh after losing in the first round of the tournament.
-Mar. 29: Hocutt and Tubby meet in Hocutt's office to talk about the future of Tech basketball, what was important to Tubby in order to move the program forward.
My thoughts: They followed through with the meeting they discussed on the charter to Morgantown, planned out the future, etc. All good stuff as far as I can tell. Things were rocking along.
-Apr. 8: Tubby accepts Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in a ceremony in Los Angeles Athletics Club in L.A.
-Apr. 12 (10:30 a.m.): Hocutt presents Tubby with 5-year contract extension and reiterated the athletics department's desire to keep Tubby at Tech until he decided to retire. Hocutt said they shook hands and agreed to get back together later in the week. Hocutt said he received Tubby's confirmation he was happy at Tech, couldn't imagine coaching anywhere else and was excited to lead the group of young men on the team.
My thoughts: Knowing what I know now this is nonsense from Tubby's end. Literally a couple hours later he's out of town on an interview so pretty disingenuous and while I definitely agree on the character of the players, it obviously didn't mean enough for him to stay, which is pretty standard, of course, for the entire coaching industry.
-Apr. 12 (3:30 p.m.): Hocutt receives a courtesy phone call from the Memphis AD informing him Tubby is a candidate for their vacant post and that they were reaching out to him to gauge his interest.
My thoughts: This is one of those phone calls you receive where everything stops for a second and all of a sudden whatever you had planned that day seems unimportant. No matter your profession, we have all likely had several of these.
-Apr. 12 (5:30 p.m.): Hocutt calls Tubby to try and meet with him at the USA. Tubby informs Hocutt that the coach and his wife are in the car en route to Amarillo to meet with Memphis about the job. Hocutt tries to convince Tubby to turn around "Tubby, what's it going to take?" Tubby replies Memphis is very convincing and he needs to go check it out.
My thoughts: My first thought was Amarillo, really? I guess Memphis and Tubby was trying to keep it quiet. I don't know that just struck me as odd. I don't fault Tubby for going to the meeting and I don't fault him for not telling Hocutt about it. Hell, he took Hocutt's call and told him what was going on. I'm a little surprised it took Hocutt two hours to contact Tubby, but I have no idea what he had going on that afternoon, either.
-Apr. 13 (8:30 a.m.): Tubby is a no-show for a meeting on campus with Hocutt and donors about a new basketball practice facility. Hocutt said he tried calling Tubby, but said the coach "had gone silent on me".
My thoughts: The truth is Tubby likely forgot about the meeting. He probably had an assistant or likely the dude in the athletics communication department remind him of events such as this. That being said there is no excuse. It doesn't matter why he didn't show. He didn't and gave no warning to Hocutt. So now Hocutt is there with his pants down IN FRONT OF DONORS, people who want to donate money for basketball facilities, and his head coach is a no-show. It's at the very least bad business, in my opinion.
-Apr. 13 (11 a.m.): Hocutt said he learned from "others around the country" that Tubby was in Memphis.
My thoughts: That was fast.
-Apr. 13 (noon): Hocutt reaches Tubby. They have "subsequent conversations throughout the day" and by 4 p.m. Hocutt is convinced Tubby would return to Lubbock and lead the Red Raider hoops program. Hocutt also said Tech made contract enhancements which based off 2016 numbers would have made Tubby the third-highest paid coach in the Big 12.
My thoughts: I'm fan of Tubby as a person and a coach, but I don't know if he's worth that kind of money. I think it's likely comforting to Tech fans that Hocutt was competitive and Tech offered a lot of money, but it could be better at this point that Tech didn't shell out that kind of money for Tubby. Of course, that likely depends on the next hire.
-Apr. 13 (5 p.m.): When the two speak again "all indications were that that was not the case and he was going to stay in Memphis." Hocutt said he urged Tubby to not make a rushed decision. According to Hocutt, Tubby told him that he and his wife would return to Lubbock, they would sleep on it and then he and Hocutt would talk Thursday morning.
My thoughts: It sounds like Tubby and his wife knew they were taking the Memphis job by then. The sleep on it part may have just been a negotiating ploy. Without Tubby's input I can't say. But I know at this point I, and many of you here, expected him to be gone at this point. Sounds like Kirby did too, but made a last-ditch effort to keep him.
-Apr. 14 (6:45 a.m.): Tubby calls Hocutt (from Memphis) to inform him he's taking the Memphis job. Reports say his contract is for five years, $15.75 million.
My thoughts: At least he called him first thing in the morning. I will never begrudge someone for trying to advance their career and provide for their family. My biggest question, and I wish I would have asked this, is did Tubby address this with "the best group of kids he's ever worked with in his career". The kids sat a row or so in front of me at the presser and they seemed a little sad, but these guys are tough, intelligent and know that college basketball is a business. Make no mistake, and Tubby, who I consider to be a very nice and classy guy, is the perfect example as such to really hammer this point home... college athletics is big business more that anything else.