We have waited long enough. It is time for Tubby Smith to be in the rafters at Rupp Arena. Tubby was the definition of class and brought in many of the names we now call as some of the top players in program history.
Orlando “Tubby” Smith was introduced as the 20th coach of the Kentucky Wildcats on May 12th, 1997. Returning to Lexington after stops at Tulsa and Georgia, Smith had the tough task of replacing the *then popular head coach Rick Pitino.
In his first season, Kentucky won their 7th National Championship and while he didn’t get back to the championship game during his time in Lexington, but did return to the Elite Eight three more times.
The pressure built throughout his tenure though as fans never seemed to be that impressed with the success that his teams had. Some fans also weren’t fond of his signature “Tubbyball,” which focused more on defense and slower paced games.
Tubby resigned in 2007 to take the job at Minnesota. Following his stint there, he has made stops at Texas Tech and Memphis before returning to his alma mater High Point earlier this year.
Kentucky has put three of their former coaches in the rafters and each of them won a National Championship. In fact, Smith and John Calipari are the only two coaches to win a championship and not be in the rafters. Cal is a guarantee to be there one day, but we need to stop waiting to put Tubby there.
How it should be done is simple. Kentucky should welcome Tubby’s High Point team to Rupp Arena for a game this coming season. It would be one of their “easier” non conference games. Either before or after the game, his name can be raised to the rafters.
There is no reason to keep waiting. Tubby Smith should have been in the rafters already.