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It’s time for Tubby to be in the Rafters

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Article written by Sam Gormley

Follow me on Twitter @GormleyKSR; "The Whitest Man in the World"-JRock

43 responses to “It’s time for Tubby to be in the Rafters”

  1. jim tom

    Yes, yes it is. And here come the haters in 3, 2, 1….

    1. bigbluebanana

      I put the same comment the other day, except mine was about SEC haters coming in 3, 2, 1… no one ever said anything! This may be the way to shut up the trolls!

    2. ukkatzfan

      Or Maybe the haters are the negative people who expect haters. By the way, I am just here to troll the bigbluebanana. Hahahahahaha.

    3. bigbluebanana

      Glad to have you katzfan. I think moving forward, no matter what the points are, you and I should always be there for each other, trolling when all hope for trolling is lost!

  2. BPatte

    It’s past time to put Tubby in the rafters. Let’s do it right, and recognize an outstanding coach and person.

    1. crazycatfan65

      Could not agree more, well past time.

    2. Ridge Runner


  3. Blublood41

    Who makes that decision? Bernhardt?

  4. SHCooper

    He deserves it.

    Kinda related since Memphis fired him just to get Wiseman, I hope we get him even more now. Lol.

  5. SuperTroy18

    He deserves to be in the rafters. Very good coach, but an even better human being. He won a TON of games here: he belongs in the rafters. Bring him back to honor him. If we don’t, and eventually Cal goes in the rafters, how horrible will that look for the program?

  6. Park

    I always hoped Tubby would follow a similar arc as Joe B Hall. Hall was not exactly a fan favorite when his time as head coach was coming to an end. Now he is beloved by all it seems. Tubby is a great person, won a championship (and a lot of games) for us, and had several teams that could have won. I agree he should be in the rafters.

  7. Drogon

    The guy who left out of here like a thief in the night? Sure, why not!

    1. lexcatfan2367

      The guy who got UK a title. I don’t want to hear the BS about Rick’s players. I’m pretty sure Tubby had his own plays and methods for coaching. It doesn’t matter how he left. Btw, Rick said he’d never leave…the following week, he left for the Celtics.

    2. krautdog

      Only because he finally relented & let them play the style they had been taught did they win the championship!

    3. mm40

      That would imply that his departure was not expected, when it fact it was at least some what expected. Try to have at least a small amount of truth to your comments.

    4. rainman

      More like the guy who was run off by ignorant (racist) fans?

    5. dismore

      Oh God here we go with the race card. Must be a liberal.

    6. rainman

      Truth hurts HUH?
      WHAT does that make YOU?

    7. catdaddyd

      Look at his record since he left UK, if he was run off, seems like the right decision.

  8. rainman


  9. Fitz

    If it were possible to agree with an idea at more than 100% I would on this one. It’s difficult to follow a great act in any business and Tubby did it in with winning a title. Not a great coach or very good recruiter, the Tubster is an outstanding person.

    Someone asked who makes that decision. I’m surprised it wasn’t in the article. Does anyone know?

  10. Rick_S


  11. Rabbi Li

    Uh no. Time to take Pitino down.

  12. sincitycat

    When Pitino took the Louisville job UK might have changed its policy so as not to retire a coach’s jersey while they are still coaching.

  13. serdi

    NO since I could not speak the truth and sound reason for NO

  14. 2thepoint

    Because he son the titke he drserves in, but Tubby won with Ricks players. Tubby was so tough on his players he would look like he was ready to kill them and then back away rapidly. He was so honest he found a misplaced fax for Morris. He was such a fine person he left his team and coaches in the middle of the night without saying see ya. He was an average coach at GA. He was fired at MN and Memphis. He did his best work at Texas Tech.

    1. rainman


    2. cats646

      No rain man, please dear lord, NO.

  15. Jesus H. Chrysler

    Might as well put Saul Smith’s #11 jersey beside Tubby’s

  16. CatManDo

    I have always been a defender of Tubby. The “he won with Rick’s team” has always bothered me. While the 98 team was really good, it was far from “bring in any stub coach and he will win a title.”
    I am afraid that given today’s current state of sensitivity, this is a race related article, even though it doesn’t reference it. I am sure many of the comments will reflect this unfortunately.

    1. CatManDo

      “slub coach”

  17. HackRichards

    I agree. Tubby needs to be recognized.

    1. Luether

      He has been…

  18. Kat4Life

    I don’t know.….I could certainly support it, but it did not jump out as a gross injustice to be honest. Sure he ran a clean program and had a number of very competitive teams. He won 20 games every year, went to the NCAA tourney every year, and was regular season champ 9 times. But he never had another Final Four after the first season, and his last two teams were both underperformers that laid eggs. On balance, it’s probably the right thing to let him in. Any guy that holds than helm for 10 years deserves it.

  19. gwhittle

    Tubby is a great guy. But a mediocre coach. That doesn’t get you in the rafters in my opinion.

  20. Catuary

    I don’t think Tubby belongs in the rafters, nor does Rick. Both coaches left Kentucky to pursue their careers elsewhere. I don’t begrudge them for it, but I hold the rafters honor in a higher esteem than do most other commenters. Tubby ran a clean program and had a lot of class, but that alone isn’t enough. He voluntarily left the program to coach at another school and has been fired several times since.

    Remember this classic?
    Q: How do you build a top 30 basketball team?
    A: Take a #1 team and hire Tubby Smith!

  21. BrassowFan

    I think it’s due time to do this, he won a title and was (and has remained) an excellent ambassador of the program. The only thing that would make it better is if we made room for it by removing the banner of his predecessor!

  22. Angelo

    hell yes!!! championships matter…

  23. kentuckyrld

    Not now; not never; not ever.

  24. (Aixelsyd)0505

    Hell yes Tubby should definitely be in the rafters with his 98’ team, that uk vs dUKe game to get to the final 4, besting numerous #1 teams at home with mediocre teams and putting a 30pt win against a ranked UL team. Don’t forget his defense was some of the best defensive teams to ever don the Blue/White! WITH 3 star guys at that!

    1. (Aixelsyd)0505

      Plus finding Chuck Hayes, Who is the only All- American that couldn’t dunk at the PF position lol…. legend still

  25. UKsuperdave

    Of course Tubby should be there. We had some really great teams under Tubby.

    Rick – 1 title in 8 years .814 wining %
    Cal – 1 title in 9 years .810 wining %
    Tubbly – 1 title in 10 years .760 wining %

  26. FrankySSSuper

    After Rick’s crew won the championship, which of Tubby’s teams after that won? (I know this is an unpopular point of view) If the championship could have been recreated after they were gone, that’d be one thing. However, I don’t think they even made it back to the Final Four after that year. I can see both sides of this argument, but I’m just not that impressed with Tubby. I think the rafters should be for the greats, and the greats alone.