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Tubby Smith says he would be honored to come back to Rupp Arena

The folks over at CN2 sat down with former Kentucky head basketball coach Tubby Smith to talk about a number of things, including his time in Lexington. One of the questions that inevitably came up, and one which many people have debated for quite some time now, is whether or not Tubby would or should come back to Rupp Arena at some point. Many believe that in the near future, Smith’s jersey will be lifted to the rafters along with the other head coaches who have won national championships while at Kentucky. CN2 finally got Tubby Smith’s take on the matter, and he said he would be honored. “Yeah, I would be honored. Who wouldn’t be? It was a great 10 years there, 12 years actually. I probably spent longer time there than any previous coach since Adolph Rupp. Other than Joe B. Hall. …That would be a special, special thing.”

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

51 Comments for Tubby Smith says he would be honored to come back to Rupp Arena

  1. skid
    11:51 am July 16, 2013 Permalink

    The Tubster would be welcomed.

  2. JF
    11:54 am July 16, 2013 Permalink

    The time will be right sometime soon. I hope he’ll get the respect he deserves when it does. His time here might not have ended how many of us would have wanted it to, but he always represented UK with class, unlike BCG. Would be cool to see him welcomed again.

  3. Han
    11:55 am July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Now that he’s more than 1 job removed from leaving, it’d be fine.

  4. RICK
    11:55 am July 16, 2013 Permalink

    A class act and i am a TT fan now that he is there.

  5. JF
    11:56 am July 16, 2013 Permalink

    More than at Coach Smith, I think most of us were more upset at how the media of the time tried to portray it, like we were running him out of town. There was clearly a lot of pressure on him, but that’s always going to be the case at Kentucky.

  6. Bryan The Intern
    11:57 am July 16, 2013 Permalink

    I say we sign Tubby to a lifetime contract as head coach after Calipari leaves.

  7. Emory Worldwide
    12:00 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Love Tubby, he most definitely needs to be honored. TUBBY BALL!

  8. JF
    12:02 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    6. Don’t know how serious you were, probably not very. My dream scenario was always to promote Antigua, but if Tubby wants to sign on in an assistant or advisory role to help with the in-game coaching, I’d be all for that.

  9. Bill Brasky
    12:06 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    #8–BTI always used to infamously support Tubby on this site even after everyone gave up on him…I think #6 was just trying to be funny

  10. Frog Wilson
    12:11 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby is a Class Act.

  11. JF
    12:15 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    9. I see. Started coming around during the Lucas-Patterson days, so I missed the Tubby era of KSR.

  12. fatkidineastky
    12:18 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    I believe Tubby gave his heart to KY Basketball AND to the University of Kentucky. He represented the insitution of UK Basketball with dignity and with the utmost RESPECT and Class. I hope he receives the highest of honors that Kentucky Basketball may bestow upon him….with that said…I AM SO GLAD WE DON’T HAVE TUBBY BALL anymore…I remember his style of play was an extension of Pitino early on in the decade tenure but as his recruits became less and less talented….so did the style of play for those players….BUT I VOTE YES ON HIS BEING HONORED!

  13. klassact32
    12:23 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    I always liked Tubby and felt he got the shaft. Hated the way things turned out for him. It would be so cool to have him return and get the recognition he deserves.

  14. Topical Pseudonym
    12:25 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be honored. The classiest man in the game who put his heart into the program

  15. Bobbum man
    12:28 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    11- any news on Lucas?

  16. Big Blue Coming At You
    12:36 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    13. Got the shaft?? The man was given a million dollars on his way out with the way he left the program!

    12:39 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    A lot of the hate for 10 loss Tubby centered on people saying Tubby won the Championship with Pitino’s players. Well Pitino bailed on the Cats and Tubby wanted to come (who wouldn’t) and gave his heart to the program. Yes it ended poorly, but there are few coaches that are great X & O guys AND great recruiters. Tubby outcoached Coach K in that Regional Final (the year of the Championship in 98) period.

    Go Tubby!

  18. Catsfan99
    12:42 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink


  19. Bill Brasky
    12:42 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    #11 JF…if you have time one day and are bored, you should go back in the archives and look at some of those Tubby era posts. Most of the comments back then are historical gold. Back then, a BIG post had about 15-20 comments…

  20. Real UK Fan
    12:42 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby left. He was not fired. He could have shown that he was a better man and stayed and gave some real effort at recruiting. I, for one, am glad he is gone and I hope he stays gone.

  21. JF
    1:00 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    15. My sources say we’ll get Lucas and miss on Patterson. Apparently Coach K crying really impressed him. Recruiting news was even more ridiculous back then, too.

  22. cm punk
    1:03 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Take down pitino and add Tubby. Tubby is not a traitor like slick rick.

  23. spookykim
    1:09 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Ha, ha, #22, I agree! It’s good seeing the love for Tubby! Bring him back to be the Y & add his banner in the rafters! On the other hand, Gillespie can be 20 jobs removed (& that will be likely), & still get booed!

  24. Still Salty
    1:14 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Our 2005 recruiting class was a joke. Jared Carter, Rekalin Sims and Adam Williams? Really Orlando? I’m still salty.

  25. Jeff
    1:15 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    I still LOVE Tubby Smith. Bill Keightley said many times that Tubby was the classiest coach ever to coach at UK and I will be at Rupp when they retire his Jersey clapping loudly. If you ever met Tubby yo would know e was the ultimate class act and represented UK as such. Tubby Tubby Tubby!!!

  26. SeaCat
    1:16 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Who makes the decision on Rupp banners?

  27. BravoBigBlue
    1:18 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby inherited the undisputed #1 college basketball program in the country at the time and after 10 years, it was nowhere near #1. In fact, it was bordering on disaster. Hell yes, put in the rafters! Along with Saul!

  28. James
    1:26 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    I LOVE the way #22 thinks. Rick has shown his true colors and had implicated that he no longer considers himself a Wildcat. Fine, remove his banner and replace it with a class act like Tubby that says he would be honored with the privelage.

    Pitino has spat in our faces enough times to take away the honor. Tubby has always ha nice things to say despite how things went down initially. We love you Tubster!


  29. Stole my exact words
    1:27 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    22. Could not have said it better myself. I think it’s past time to take ol traitor ricks jersey down for ever.

  30. chief_cat
    1:28 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    I’m a big fan of Tubby Smith. He has always been a top defensive-minded coach, won it all in ’98, and was AP COY in ’03. Regardless his overall success on the court (.760 winning percentage, only one trip to the Final Four), he always represented the university with class and dignity. He came from humble beginnings and has worked hard to achieve success. He constantly gave back to the community, forming the Tubby Smith Foundation and Tubby’s Klubhouses, which still does great work in the Lexington area. Tubby has consistently attributed success to others but always accepted full responsibility for any failures.

    I will never forget when Tubby and his family hosted my family at the Puerto Rico Shootout back in the winter of ’98. I was still in the Navy and stationed near San Juan. I had contacted the coaching staff via letter, asking if the team would like to join my family for a Thanksgiving meal. Rather than getting a form letter back from the Athletic Department, I received a personal letter from Tubby informing me that the team would be staying at a hotel east of San Juan and that arrangements had already been made for a large Thanksgiving dinner for the team and many fans traveling to San Juan for the tournament. Tubby then asked that my family join Donna and him as his personal guests for the dinner and for all of the tournament games. We jumped at the chance. Not only did we get to enjoy dinner with the group, but Tubby sought us out and insisted we sit at the table with him. He spoke of his love for the Navy, recalling that his first paying job was at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, near his home in Scotland MD. He said how much he appreciated the sacrifices of military families. Donna and he took us around the room, introducing us to players, coaches, and staff. They made sure we had time to talk to the players, take pictures with them, and that we had a memorable experience. Throughout the tournament either Tubby or Donna found us in the crowd and made sure that we were enjoying the event and that we hadn’t encountered any problems.

    There was an honest, genuine concern that Tubby conveyed that made me realize he is very much a man of high character, honor, and is loyal to a fault. I know that the way he left is of concern to some fans, but I suspect there is much more to the story than we will ever know. He certainly will never share it, instead allowing those that point to him as a failure, to heap blame on him for leaving. I think Tubby is ultimately much more concerned with who he is than who others want him to be.

    Things have turned out well for UK. We had to endure a couple of horrible years under BCG but have found nirvana since Cal arrived. I am a very happy UK fan who relishes in our recent success. I’m excited for the future. But I will always respect Tubby for his accomplishments on and off the court while at UK. He represented us with class and dignity. He deserves that from us and from the university in return.

  31. Vault Boy
    1:30 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Hey Tubby’s a nice person so why not. Maybe we could commemorate all his 10 loss season’s while he’s here…

  32. Jpo
    1:30 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    27. Ya you’re right why couldn’t we be number 1 for 10 straight years??? What a bum!! /sarcasm

  33. Megahay
    1:42 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Its time. KSR needs to make a movement on getting Tubby back to Rupp and at the very least, honored before a game, or in my opinion raise his name in the rafters… Its time people, its time.. If not for what he done ON the floor, but for how he represented us flawlessly off of it. Oh and with a national title to boot. BRING HIM BACK!!

  34. Mountain Blue
    1:44 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Class act. Tubby deserves to be up there. By the way how many loses did we have this year?

  35. TubbyFan
    2:05 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    27. Rick Pitino left with him with a good team, but Pitino won a championship in 96 and got exactly 1 recruit that year (Jamal Magliore). He was runner up the next year and drug his feet on leaving for Boston, left us with a black eye in the whole Joann Heuser incident and only got 1 recruit that year (Myron Anthony). To be fair, Pitino also accepted transfer Heshimu Evans. That being said the 2000-01 season and the 2001-02 season were Pitino fault for his constant NBA flirtation and flat out did not recruit. The teams Tubby had in 2003 and 2004 were the number 1 overall seeds in the NCAA tournament and were kids that he recruited.

    BTW, Myron Anthony turned out to be a thug and Tubby had to kick him off the team, so Pitino left town not doing his job recruiting his last 2 years and the fans falsely blamed Tubby.

  36. J.T.
    2:43 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I have NEVER had anything against Tubby Smith as a man or a coach. The only problems I ever had with Tubby were (1.) his inability (or reluctance depending on who you talk to) to recruit the best of the best in high school, (2.) his stubborn adherance to the ball line defense, and (3.) his frustrating loyalty in regards to his (out of their depth) assistant coaches. Those three things aside, Tubby was ALWAYS a great coach, a great ambassador for the UK program, and one of the most honorable and amired men in college basketball coaching.

  37. Charles
    2:46 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Those of you that love tubby after all mediocrity he put our program through obviously do not understand basketball.

    And 35, Rick Pitino gift-wrapped the 98 Title for tubby. It’s funny that tubby never sniffed another Final Four again. We will call him ALMOST!

  38. Charles
    2:50 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    36, Tubby was a great ambassador for mediocrity if that’s what you are in to.

  39. Jpo
    3:00 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    37. 3 elite 8’s doesn’t count as sniffing the final four? Ok. Also, Pitino couldn’t win the championship the year before with a much better team than the ’98 team.

  40. megahay
    3:03 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    J.T. I will agree with you on the assistant coach loyalty. That and the recruiting go hand in hand as most of your assistant coaches are responsible for building relationships with recruits. But other than that, i am a Tubby fan..

  41. Ridge Runner
    3:28 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    Hang a jersey for him in our rafters. It’s time.

  42. blueaville
    5:43 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    always loved Tubby. i think he should be honored and soon.

    1 NCAA Title
    0 NIT’s

    just saying….;)

  43. Brian
    6:13 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    The fit with us and Tubby wasn’t the best but Tubby is a fine coach and is a CLASS ACT In every stretch of the words.

  44. CatfaninOhio
    9:38 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    While I was critical of Tubby’s recruiting in his final few years, there is no classier coach than Coach Smith. I’d love to see UK schedule a game with Texas Tech and raise a banner during a pre-game ceremony. It is deserved.

  45. catdaddyd
    10:35 pm July 16, 2013 Permalink

    The fit with Tubby and Minnesota was not the best fit either.

  46. ChemEN3
    6:20 am July 17, 2013 Permalink

    10 loss Tubby, Team Turmoil, Longest Final Four Drought in UK history, etc. etc. etc.!! These are all things I associate with Tubby Smith!! He could recruit. He had several #1 classes with Morris, Bradley, Crawford, & Rondo being the most obvious. He could not develop talent!! How many players in the Tubby era left UK with more skill than they had coming in?? Tayshaun Prince said his time at UK was a waste, Azibuke & Morris are wasting away in China, and even a lunatic like BCG got more out of Bradley & Crawford in one year than Tubby did in 3!! He may be a great guy, but he sucks as a coach!!

  47. Dee W.
    11:40 pm July 17, 2013 Permalink

    And again…the handful of haters show up with their complete lack of facts to back up their statements…just making things up as they go along. They’re a small minority, but how annoying.

    Here are the facts…yet again:

    Tubby Smith record at Kentucky:

    1997 – 1998 – 35-4 overall, 14-2 SEC, SEC regular season champions, SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Champions, SEC Coach of the Year

    1998 – 1999 – 28-9 overall, 11-5 SEC, SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Elite 8

    1999 – 2000 – 23-10 overall, 12-4 SEC, SEC regular season Champions (tied), NCAA Round of 32

    2000 – 2001 – 24-10 overall, 12-4 SEC, SEC regular season Champions (tied), SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Sweet 16

    2001 – 2002 – 22-10 overall, 10-6 SEC, NCAA Sweet 16

    2002 – 2003 – 32-4 overall, 16-0 SEC, SEC regular season Champions, SEC tournament Champions, Granted #1 seed NCAA tournament, NCAA Elite Eight, SEC Coach of the Year, Naismith National Coach of the Year, Henry Iba Award for best national coach of the year, AP National Coach of the Year, first team since 1952 to go undefeated through SEC conference play through both the regular season and tournament (and first and only to do so with 16 regular season games), new record set for highest attendance at a game at Rupp Arena during this season, largest margin of victory (62 points) over an opponent in a game since 1952, first college coach since 1975 to sweep all NCAA recognized national coach of the year honors in the same season

    2003 – 2004 – 27-5 overall, 13-3 SEC, SEC Tournament Champions, Granted #1 overall seed NCAA tournament, NCAA round of 32

    2004 – 2005 – 28-6 overall, 14-2 SEC, #1 recruiting class, SEC regular season Champions, SEC tournament runner-up, NCAA Elite Eight, SEC Coach of the Year, Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, AP National Coach of the Year

    2005 – 2006 – 22-13 overall, 9-7 SEC, NCAA round of 32

    2006 – 2007 – 22-12 overall, 9-7 SEC, NCAA round of 32

  48. Katbluefan
    2:04 am July 18, 2013 Permalink

    I have at times been very out spoken about Tubby and the way he left. I may have been wrong on some of the things I said and after time have come to realize Tubby wasn’t as bad as some of the others. He didn’t disgrace the State as one coach has done. I would be OK with him coming back and being honored.

  49. Dee W.
    5:39 pm July 18, 2013 Permalink

    #46 –

    No evidence to support your comment about Tayshaun Prince – in fact he believes and had has said just the opposite.

    What is with you people just making things up?

  50. Jbcruse
    7:58 pm July 18, 2013 Permalink

    Yeh…the only banner TLT should get should have each of his 10-Loss seasons listed along with the players’ names from his last team… Or, maybe UK ‘s national rankings for the 3’years prior to him getting the job and…UK’s ranking for his last 3 years…..he’ll be remember for his boring style, his stubbornness, laziness, poor recruiting and daddy-ball with Saul.

  51. Dee W.
    11:13 pm July 18, 2013 Permalink

    50 – that’s really absurd analysis – not even close to being factual analysis or accurate depiction of his tenure at UK – still trying this nonsense even after his actual record was posted? The nonsense you posted is not how he’s remembered nor will it be. Tough luck for you and the other haters.—Basketball.aspx?ProductID=effa307f-2828-4714-9d02-69b12662be54

    There’s an example found of a full game from his tenure at UK – his 6th year so long after “Pitino’s Players” were gone. Explain how that is “boring”?