After the 2012-13 season, there could be a couple coaching changes in the Big Ten and one of them might involve a coach that could have coached his final conference tournament game this afternoon.
As I’m in Chicago this weekend covering the Big Ten Tournament, a hot topic of discussion is whether Minnesota’s Tubby Smith will be around to lead the Gopher program after the postseason concludes.
Smith’s team, the ninth seed in the tournament, lost a heartbreaker this afternoon, falling to No. 8-seed Illinois 51-49 on a last-second shot by Brandon Paul.
The loss dropped the Golden Gophers to 20-12 on the season and you have to wonder if they’re now squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble and if that bubble is about to burst.
If Minnesota sees its name revealed on Selection Sunday it should consider itself very fortunate.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament albeit as a No. 9 seed, even with the latest developments.
“We’ll be wondering and hoping,” said Smith after the Illinois game when asked if he thought his team had done enough to deserve a bid to the Big Dance. “We have a good resume. We haven’t played well of late, but when you look at the entire body of work, I think we have done enough. But it’s not up to us. It will be interesting to me. It will be a sweat it out type of thing.”
In reality, Smith’s Gophers simply don’t deserve getting a bid. His team is more NIT worthy than anything else, and that might be a stretch at this point considering the way they’re currently playing.
Minnesota is playing bad basketball at the most important time of the year. It has lost three in a row, five of its last seven and seven of the last 10 games.
With that kind of collapse, don’t be surprised at all if Minnesota decides to part ways with Smith, who has a 123-80 record in six seasons guiding the Gophers.
Smith’s team’s offense has gone south and you have to question whether it will return before it’s too late.
Consider this: Minnesota tallied just 51 points at Nebraska and had only 16 in the opening stanza today before falling to the Illini by a bucket.
There are plenty of rumblings ongoing in the Windy City that Minnesota administrators might be just fine with paying Smith his $2.5 million buyout and deciding that a change is what’s best for the program. Who would’ve seen that coming at the beginning of the season when a veteran Gopher team was considered to be the league’s sleeper?
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.