Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – March 22, 2007 was the day that Tubby Smith made the move from Kentucky to Minnesota. He felt the love right away.
“You can see that they’re hungry, they’re hungry for a winner. And we’re hungry to help bring a winner here too,” Smith said in an interview with Mark Rosen.
But six years later, Tubby is gone. And Gopher fans aren’t really sure what to make of his time here.
Student Demetrius Champen was taken aback by the news.
“It’s a bit of a shock, but I’m not surprised if that makes any sense,” Champen said.
Gopher fan T.J. Puchner was more wistful in his reaction.
“With him being such a nice guy it’s hard to say that he’s on his way out. But it looked like the team was going in a different direction,” Puchner said.
Another fan pointed out that Smith won only one NCAA tournament game in his tenure, defeating UCLA on Friday. Tubby’s teams made it to the “Big Dance” three out of his six seasons at the U. He had a total record of 124 and 81 – but he was just 46 and 62 in the Big Ten.
Student Lisa Evanson says she is curious about Smith’s potential successor, but she certainly didn’t see Smith’s departure coming.
“I’m curious to see who replaces him. But I was really genuinely, really surprised. I thought he was saved by that first win,” Evanson said.
Speculation is already swirling on who the new coach will be, and the big names so far include Flip Saunders and Shaka Smart.
Champen told us he has no coaching experience whatsoever, but if Norwood Teague called – he would listen.
“I’d like to have me in there to see if I could do a better job,” Champen said.
WCCO’s David McCoy went to the U’s campus Monday afternoon to hear directly from the students.
Watch the video below to see reaction from the student body.