Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Which Coach Stays Longer with a Win?

If and buts can often make for more interesting conversation than the actual reality of sports, so today I thought about some ifs and buts with 3 of UK’s legendary head coaches.  Each of these coaches had a crippling loss late in his career at Kentucky and I wonder which of them would have possibly stayed longer at Kentucky if they had won those games.  And as a little bonus, the full games are posted as well.


1984: Loses to Georgetown in Final Four
1985: Retires

Hall’s 1984 team might have been just as good as the 1978 national title team.  They had a legend in Kenny Walker, a healthy Sam Bowie and Mel Turpin, great guard play, etc etc.  And for a half against Georgetown, it looked like the Cats were on their way to title #6 at that time.  Then a 3-33 shooting half doomed the Cats and they were gone.  Had they won, they would have played a Houston team they had already beaten that year.  You have to wonder if Hall wins a title in 1984 if he retires then OR if he gets some extra motivation and stays around for another 5 years.


1997: Loses to Arizona in national title game
1997: Leaves UK for Boston Celtics

This might be a stretch but who knows?  I could see Pitino going through the run in 1997 and then falling oh so short and deciding it’s just too tough anymore.  Maybe if he wins in 1997, he sees himself as a modern day John Wooden.  I don’t know if the Celtics offer would have still been too much to turn down, but back to back national titles sounds a lot better than back to back title games.


2005: Lose to Michigan State in 2OT in Elite 8
2007: Leaves for Minnesota

I think this is the most slam dunk of the 3.  If Smith was able to get UK back to the Final Four in 2005, I have no question in my mind that the fanbase would have been more patient with him during the struggles the next 2 years.  That doesn’t mean the heat wouldn’t have been on after 2007, but I don’t think the calls to fire Tubby would have been there.  Now, would Tubby still have gotten tired of the job after 2007, we don’t know.  But a Final Four in 2005 certainly would have given Smith a refresh from the pressure he was under from the fans.  Alas, UK couldn’t get rebounds and Smith was gone.


Article written by Bryan the Intern

28 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Which Coach Stays Longer with a Win?

  1. lexslamman
    9:06 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    Tubby Smith is the third rail of UK Basketball fandom. There was a large element of our fans who hated Tubby regardless of his top-5 recruiting classes, regular season, and conference success – and would have gone on hating him even if we had taken home the NCAA trophy in 2005.

  2. Ugh
    9:13 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    Watching that Tubby game again, how…in…the…hell…did we not win???
    Morris, Kelena, Sparks, Chuck Hayes, Crawford, Bradley and Rondo
    How did we not dominate that game?!
    Especially after the momentum shifted taking it to overtime! Grrrrr

  3. Dubbya
    9:17 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    Tubby, Final Four appearance would have regained most of the freebases confidence and given him a few more years. Rick would have left no matter what and Joe B was ready to retire, not sure the FF loss really had much to do with it.

    A better question would be would Billy G have been fired had he won the NIT?

  4. Laker Cat 18
    9:29 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    Let’s start the show thread early. Tom Leach is putting me to sleep at my desk.

  5. Mxyzptlk
    9:41 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    If I recall correctly, a real driver in Joe B.’s retirement was the health of his wife. Had that circumstance been different, he would have probably coached longer.

  6. J-Dub421
    9:52 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    I know I should have been able to let it go by now, but I just can’t. I’m still pissed about that 1997 title game against Arizona. It was one of the worst officiated games I’ve ever seen in my life. I generally hate blaming the refs for a loss, but that game is my one exception. The officials handed that game to Arizona, and that title should have been ours. Arizona shot 41 freethrows to UK’s 17. Arizona shot 17 freethrows in overtime alone and did not make a single field goal in overtime. The refs should never have that much of an effect on the outcome of a game.

    • Melvit
      1:26 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      If I recall correctly, UK didn’t shoot a single free throw in OT. The refs gave that game to Arizona because they were the Cinderella team that everyone outside of the Bluegrass wanted to win.

  7. Champ
    9:56 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    Crazy to think that with 1 rebound in 2005, Tubby may still be our coach. You never know.

  8. Rick in TX
    10:03 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t think any of the three would have gone on any longer.

    The 2005 loss to Michigan State was not a key to Coach Smith leaving. There were too many people that didn’t want Tubby no matter what. Pitino was going to jump to the Celtics no matter what. He wanted the chance to coach in the NBA and the offer was right for him. And, as previously noted, Coach Hall’s retirement had more to do with family than basketball.

    So, my answer to the question is … not one of the three. Now, had an envelope not “accidentally” come open, would Pitino have ever coached at UK?

    • bigbluetruth
      8:27 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      I know Sutton had some shady dealings while here but I’ll never be convinced that an envelope with $1000 in it would’ve been sealed up better than flying open after being tossed on a table. We can thank a team on the west coast for that set-up.

  9. Rick in TX
    10:06 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    But, man, it was a blast being at that Michigan State game. I was up in the nosebleed section of the Drum in Austin and surrounded by Sparty fans. We all had a great time that evening.

  10. John Ellis
    10:31 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    Rondo cost Tubby that game – they were up four and he quit playing defense. Rondo cost Tubby his job. Tubby has the same number of titles that Pitino and Cal have, and actually had better back to back regular seasons than either (overall #1 seed twice in a row). Stop the bashing. Chuck Hayes was a great, great player – hated seeing him miss the FF. Like Issel.

    Hall retired for terrible and corrupt reasons that never became public. My parents knew the people involved. I don’t like seeing him lionized. The resulting problems under Sutton were carryover from Hall.

    • Pickle Tickle
      10:47 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

      BS! Your parents did not know enough to wear a rubber.

    • LOL
      11:03 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

      Boom! goes the dynamite

    • a real guy's guy
      12:41 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      you know a guy that knows a guy that knows that coach Hall was dirtier than Sutton.

      i know a guy that knows a guy that says you shove pickles in your ass in your spare time. coincidentally enough, we have the exact same amount of proof. so they must be equally true !

    • eddie vedder
      1:38 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink


    • a real guy's guy
      2:24 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      @pickle tickle… just noticed your name… the ass-shoving-pickles comment was a total coincidence 😉

    • Pickle Tickle
      3:58 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      No harm ,no pickle up the ass

    • bigbluetruth
      8:30 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      You should have better information than he said she said. Hall did leave because of his wife’s health and Sutton needed no help is being corrupt.

    • ukfarmer
      10:23 am July 24, 2014 Permalink

      Tubby cost Tubby the title game. He had Hayes, the best rebounder on the team, sitting the bench in OT with four fouls. Let Hayes play until he fouls out…what is Tubby saving him for.

  11. UKBlue1!
    10:49 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    To still a line from Jerry Claiborne….here you go play’n that if’n game again! Pitino left do to greed and attitude. He could have still been coaching UK. If he would have stayed in would have as many titles as coach K, maybe more. Tubby, well I know you think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread but didn’t get the job done and should have been fired 2-3 years before he left for Minnesota. (Minnesota fired him.) Joe B. if he had beat UCLA in 75, GTown in 84 or UL in original dream game would be considered perhaps on of the best coaches of all time. He would have probably coached 2-3 years more than he did. Joe B. is under appreciated he followed up a living legend. Rupp was alive and attending games through 1977. He had a extreme amount of pressure on him. More than Pitino or Calipari because both of them followed behind a mess.

    • bigbluetruth
      8:34 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      It’s funny how Bird played his freshman year at IU and Bobby Knight ran him off saying he was too slow. At the same time Dicky V was coaching at Detroit and Magic Johnson wanted to go there because he liked the school, coaching staff and it was a couple blocks for his family. Dicky V gave his spot to another guy who I still can’t remember his name, wonder why he’s calling games instead of coaching the last 25+years.

  12. Casper
    11:30 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

    Is there any truth to the rumor that Joe Hall turned down Larry Bird because he was too slow?

    • Jasper
      11:36 am July 23, 2014 Permalink

      Gawd, you’re an idiot.

    • eddie vedder
      1:40 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      That is a fact. Read the book “When The Game Was Ours’, Bird talks about how he and his old man used to love watching Joe B.’s UK team and their style of play. Hall did tell him he was too slow, so you’re the idiot.

  13. What's Your Handicap
    2:05 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

    I get your point but coming off a national championship season the 97 title game loss can hardly be called crippling. Pivotal perhaps?

  14. BurnerTurner5
    4:45 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

    I’m going to re-watch that Georgetown game right after I take a shower and use sandpaper instead of a washcloth!

  15. Tangledupinblue
    7:20 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

    I heard Joe Hall say in an interview that he was planning on retiring after the 1984 season but that second half against Georgetown was so bad he just couldn’t leave like that .