The Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball program has been in upheaval the last few years after Bobby Knight failing to turn things around, and then the disastrous short tenure of former Texas A&M Aggies and Kentucky Wildcats coach Billy Gillispie whose battles with alcohol addiction and the rough treatment of players ran him out of Lubbock on a rail — in spite of the fact he was “allowed” to resign to save face.
With Texas Tech’s decision to hire former Minnesota Gophers head coach — and oddly enough, another former Kentucky head guy — Tubby Smith, Kirby Hocutt and his administration are taking another dice roll on a big name in the twilight of his career. In six seasons with the Gophers, Smith compiled a 124-81 win-loss record, and, ironically, took the Gophers to their deepest post-season run this season into the NCAA Basketball Tournament’s third round prior to being fired on March 25th.
Why exactly Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague chose to fire Smith given this is somewhat of a mystery — and something highly debated among Minnesota fans — but regardless, gives Texas Tech a high-profile name that at a minimum should help them with recruiting battles, especially in-state against rivals including the Baylor Bears and Texas Longhorns.
It’s also proof that Bobby Knight’s inability to take Texas Tech back to post-season success wasn’t enough to convince the school’s athletic administration that taking a risk on big names — and the money these risks assume — was too averse to try again. Tech has struggled mightily since the departure of Knight and Gillispie’s disastrous tenure to be competitive in the Big 12 and the natives have certainly been restless.
Will Texas Tech immediately compete for a Big 12 title with Tubby Smith’s arrival?
Could they quickly be more competitive?
Expectations should be tempered in Lubbock — that’s the moral of the story.