Unlike in college football, where the games are scheduled years in advance, the college basketball schedule can still be tinkered with before next season. And if there is one priority for something that needs to be done immediately it will be getting High Point on the schedule. Why? Because it is absolutely time for Tubby Smith to get his day of honor at Rupp Arena. While many celebrated Tubby’s departure from Kentucky in 2007 and continue to unfairly hold his great career at Kentucky against Rupp and Pitino (and Calipari now), the man deserved to have his “jersey” hung from the rafters at Rupp Arena. There are really only 2 reasons for this:
- He won a national title and every coach to win a national title at Kentucky has his name in the rafters (and Cal will).
- We saw with Billy Gillispie how bad it actually could be.
Everyone who wanted to ignore Tubby’s dent in UK history because he couldn’t make it back to the Final Four hopefully saw with Gillispie that it could be a whole lot worse. Tubby did it with class and continued to keep Kentucky as an elite basketball power. Did he do it as good as his predecessor? Of course not. Did he do it as good as Calipari? Of course not. Did he coach his teams at an elite level? Of course he did.
While at Minnesota, Texas Tech, and Memphis, it was hard to schedule games against Tubby because of the almost certain requirement UK would have to return a home game for those teams. At High Point, that is no longer a barrier. Hell, as long as Tubby is there I say give High Point a spot on the schedule every year. Give Tubby a chance for a yearly standing ovation and give him the recognition of his legacy that he deserves, including a banner in the rafters.
This program is as much about the history than it is the present. Tubby Smith made a significant mark on our history. We have not given him the credit he deserves for that for various reasons, some outside of the school’s control and some not. But a decade after our national championship winning coach has left, it is time to welcome him home. I urge the UK athletic department to make this happen during the summer. Our history calls for it.