The Minnesota Golden Gophers have lost six out of their last eight games and are in jeopardy of missing the NCAA tournament if things don’t turn around quickly.
Minnesota had a hot start to the season at (15-1) but has struggled to win the games against the ranked opponents that matter the most. The Gophers have a critical game against No. 20 Wisconsin on Thursday. Tubby Smith has to find a way to win this game if his squad wants to make a legitimate postseason push. Minnesota will still see No. 1 Indiana and No. 13 Ohio State, things don’t get any easier.
So the question arises: what if the Golden Gophers miss the NCAA tournament? Is Tubby Smith’s time running out?
There are some reporters and analysts in Minneapolis who believe that this is the case and have a solution in order. Former VCU athletic director Norwood Teague is now the head man at Minnesota and Rams head coach Shaka Smart is one of the hottest names when it comes to coaching vacancies. It’s a match made in heaven, right?
There is always a silver lining. First of all, I don’t see Smart jumping ship on the Rams anytime soon. In July, he denied jobs at N.C. State and Illinois that both cashed in around $2 million per year. Instead, VCU renegotiated his contract, loaded with a base salary, multiple bonuses, a car and $10,000 allowance for clothing. Yes, he will eventually take one of the premier college jobs, but I don’t think it will happen next season.
Secondly, Smith has a new restructured deal that calls for a $2.5 million buyout. It would take an absolutely dismal season for Teague to throw away that kind of cash in only his second year as A.D.
Hometown reporters carry a certain attachment to their local team. They often want to win now, just like a fan does. They hate adversity and lash out accordingly. I expect the Gophers to turn around and possibly slip into the tournament. But if they don’t, I think Smith’s job will be safe for at least one more season.
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