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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The Guy Who Follows Cal is Screwed, Right?

Say what you want about Tubby Smith, I have always argued the thing that hurt Tubby’s time at Kentucky more than pace of play, a fairly dull personality, or perceived recruiting failures, was the simple fact that he was forced to follow Rick Pitino in the pressure-cooker that is known as Kentucky.  I mean, Tubby won 76% of his games at Kentucky, a greater percentage than Joe B. Hall.  Tubby went to the Elite 8 or further in nearly half of his seasons.  He won either an SEC regular season or tournament title in 7 of his 10 seasons.  He put several guys into the pros.  But I don’t think anybody was satisfied with Tubby’s decade at Kentucky.  And I think that is because the 8 years Pitino put in were so much better.  Better style of play, more wins, more Final Fours, more NBA talent.  When taken in a vacuum, I think Tubby’s 10 years were very good.  Those 10 years were probably one of the best any program in the country had during that time.  But Rick’s 8 years were without question the best 8 years any program had during that time with only Duke as a serious competitor.

Which brings me to Calipari.  No matter how many more years Cal goes at UK, I strongly doubt the program is going to dip very much.  I don’t see Calipari going out with a whimper at UK the way Tubby did.  So no matter how many total years Cal coaches at this program, those X number of years will be considered some of the best in UK history.  But it makes me worry about the next guy that has to take over.  Kentucky is almost certainly going to hire a high profile guy whenever the time comes, but are we going to stack that person’s results against Calipari?  Because despite the fact that Kentucky fans want the best every single season, I think we can all agree these 8 years have been a bit extraordinary in terms of results.  4 Final Fours in 8 years hasn’t happened very often at this school.  No other school has been to that many in the last 8 years.  If the next guy only goes to 2 Final Fours in 8 years, will we look down upon that tenure?

It is rare for schools to go from one great coach to the next.  Kansas did it from Roy Williams to Bill Self.  North Carolina did it from Frank McGuire to Dean Smith.  I guess Kentucky did pretty well going from Rupp to Hall.  Louisville has Crum to Pitino.  But the odds are still small that you go from one amazing coach to another.  You are more likely to get Tubby or Hall level results than you will to get another Calipari.  Those are just the odds.  If anything, I think you just hope you don’t get a Gillispie.

But what do you think?  Will you stack up the next guys results (hopefully starting in 25 more years) against Calipari, and if so, is that unfair to that next person?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

35 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The Guy Who Follows Cal is Screwed, Right?



  1. ClutchCargo
    8:49 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    Tubby just was never a good fit for a place like UK. Not in terms of coaching ability, but personality. It takes a big personality and huge ego to really pull it off.



  2. rosquirto
    8:52 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    Don’t be the guy that follows the guy. Be the guy that follows the guy that follows the guy.



  3. 4everUKblue
    8:59 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    Tubby was a good coach and good person but not right for Kentucky. His biggest success came with Pitino’s players and I think his biggest mistake was letting Saul play for him. In my opinion Saul was walk on talent AT BEST yet Tubby insisted on letting Saul run the team. I backed him as long as I could but it became glaringly obvious to me that Saul was not good enough to be a starter at Kentucky, possibly start for Transy but NOT Kentucky!



  4. az1006
    9:11 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    I am not saying Saul Smith was an outstanding player, but to suggest he wasn’t Division-1 talent is absurd. As an underclassman he was clearly over-matched, but by the time he was a senior he was a solid guard capable to leading a good team. He finished his career in the top-10 for career assists. What hurt him (much like his dad) was having to follow in the footsteps of two Kentucky legends, Anthony Epps and Wayne Turner.

    I get tired of the narrative of “Well, Tubby only won with Rick’s players.” Tubby was an excellent in-game coach, and his chess-match with Coach K in the ’98 Regional Final was the main reason we were able to win that game. He deserves credit where it’s due. But he lacked the personality and the charisma that is required to be the head coach at Kentucky. He was a good recruiter in the sense that he brought it guys tailored to his system, and allowed them to develop over the course of 3 or 4 years, but he failed to make a big splash. And when he did, it was a tumultuous mess.

    It’s good for him he was here before the one-and-done era. THe way fans remember him would be even worse. But, I think he deserves a banner and hopefully will get one.



    • 4everUKblue
      9:26 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      Saul may have been Division – 1, but not up to Kentucky standards, he was given the green light to shoot while J.P. Blevins was taken out if he missed one 3 pointer, Sorry you’re tired of the Tubby won with Pitino’s players but that is a fact, those kids were trained by Pitino not Tubby. Yes Tubby did a good job coaching the Championship game but sadly he never had a team as good as the group Pitino recruited, spin it however you want but that’s the way it was. Not saying Tubby didn’t win with his own players and correct me if I am wrong but he never got to the championship with his own players.

    • I’m glad someone agrees with me about the 98 Duke game. I’ve had at least one person argue with me a few years ago about it (I think most of the “Show Threaders” agree with our assessment). Tubby did a masterful job in that game and coached the pants of Coach K. I remember after the game he explained that he put Jamal on Elton Brand because Jamal was more physical than Nazr, and he also switched to a smaller lineup because Duke had been “out-quicking” us. Tubby was also helped by Coach K burning his timeouts early and being too stupid/stubborn to pull Wojo off Turner when Turner was absolutely taking him to the woodshed.

      I admit I was saying “Call timeout!” when Duke got up by double digits, but Tubby was right and we hung #7!



    • 4everUKblue
      10:15 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      I agree Tubby did a great job out coaching K….masterful!…..just never got another chance to win the title with his recruits is all I am saying.



  5. bankerbh
    9:20 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    It may be too soon to answer the question. Much of the answer will have to do with how and why Cal leaves. If he leaves because he won multiple championships and it doesn’t look like he can accomplish anything else at Kentucky then it will be extremely difficult to follow. If the end for Cal resembles that of Eddie Sutton or Tubby then it will be easier for the next guy.



  6. Aar
    9:44 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    Of course we will stack up the successor’s initial results against his predecessor. It’s just the way things work. Over time, we will judge them against all of UK’s coaches.

    My question is – are we really judging Tubby that harshly? If you rank UK’s 7 coaches based upon their results, I find it hard to rank him any differently than 5th. Put differently, that makes him the 3rd worst. That is not to say that he was a bad coach. For all of the reasons stated, he was a successful coach at UK. It is a testament to the program that he is our 3rd worst coach!

    In that ranking, I need to state that as of today it is hard to choose which coaches to rank above the others in positions 3 through 5. Cal’s body of work is not yet complete but 4 final fours and a championship put him in the 3-4 conversation. If he stops producing those kinds of team results he could slide towards the 4-5 discussion and he may be trending that way. That leaves the discussion about 4-5 to Hall vs Smith. Despite statistics and results I doubt anybody in BBN would allow Joe B to fall to 3rd worst and I suspect few would rank Smith above Hall. I include “fun to watch” in my ranking and by that measure, I rank Cal first – partially because Rupp was before my time and also because it is really fun to see the excellent new talent Cal brings to the team each season.



    • 4everUKblue
      10:13 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      I don’t mean to judge Tubby that harshly….BUT, it was boring basketball, yes he won a lot, just not in the NCAA tournament. For me it was never near as good as it was in 98’…..which as history shows was not with his recruits. Tubby was a good coach and a great person, not sure what happened at Memphis with all his players leaving for Kansas though.



    • manOwar
      1:33 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      Hey 4everUKblue, the team that went undeafeated in the SEC, 19-0 was all Tubby’s players. Keith Bogans was the star. They had no true center, but some of the best interior passing I have ever seen at UK… Great defenders and rebounders… Yes, they came up short in the Elite-8, because Keith Bogans had a badly sprained ankle and was unable to guard a fella known as Dwayne Wade, ya know, the guy who went on to win 3 NBA Championships?! Wade hung 29pts on the Cats that day, as well as 11 assists, 11 rebounds….this is what is known as a triple-double….So, even though UK lost in the Elite-8 that year, they were likely the best team in the tourney. While I do agree with you that Tubby’s persona, his slow offense and blue-collar recruiting all pale in comparison to Calipari’s, I can’t get on board with the notion that he wasn’t good enough for UK…Tubby was a great fit, until the times changed and he fell behind in recruiting- then he left. The REAL question is WHY didn’t UK hire Calipari in the first place, instead of Gillispie??!! *sigh*



    • 4everUKblue
      2:30 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      Hey manOwar, as I said Tubby won with his recruits, just not big success in the NCAA, he even had some good players and I know what a triple double is…btw….did that triple double bring home the NCAA trophy? We were not talking about who the best team in the tournament was because as you surely know, the best team often does not win the NCAA title. I’m pretty sure very few fans are ok with being undefeated in the SEC and losing in the elite 8. My point was he only got to the championship game with guess whose recruits….not his. Also I never said he was not good enough tor Kentucky, what I did say was that Saul was not good enough for Kentucky! As to why BG was hired instead of Cal you will need to ask Mitch that question. Oh and I can’t get on board with Tubby being a great fit for Kentucky even though he was a good coach.



    • az1006
      3:44 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      4everUKblue…If you’re saying falling short of a national championship is always a disappointment, then I truly feel sorry for you. As a fan of any sports program, to expect a national championship every single year, and only be satisfied with a national championship, must make your fandom extremely sad. Kentucky’s won 8 national championships, as you know, and has fielded 114 basketball teams. So, we’ve only won a title 7% of the time, good enough for 2nd best in the nation. It was disheartening that the 2003 team failed to at least reach the Final Four, but that is still one of my favorite teams of all time. Their incredible defense, interior passing, balanced scoring, and overall dominance in the SEC at a time when the SEC was arguably the best conference in the country was something to behold. Had Bogans stayed healthy, perhaps we’re having a totally different conversation.

      The fact is, the landscape of college basketball changed and changed quickly toward the end of Tubby’s tenure. He did a poor job of keeping up, and I think it has soured his legacy in the eyes of some fans. There were some down years during his tenure, to be sure, but from 2003-2005 we were arguably the best team in the country. Two consecutive #1 overall seeds in the NCAA Tournament, two Elite Eights, and a healthy Bogans and offensive rebound against Michigan State away from potentially two Final Fours (or better) in 3 seasons. People, for whatever reason, tend to overlook that 3 year stretch.

      If college basketball were the same in 1997 as it is today, Tubby would have been a horrendous hire. But, at the time, he made a lot of sense and was a good fit, at least for the first 5 or 6 years. As often is the case, he just stuck around for a few too many years.



    • 4everUKblue
      6:24 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      AZ apparently some of you cannot read or unable to understand words grouped together to make a sentence and figure out their meanings….I will not go into any long explanation but I NEVER EVER said anything about expecting to win the title every year. If you go back and CAREFULLY read what I said and let me paraphrase once again…..I said Tubby ONLY GOT TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WITH PITINO’S PLAYERS NOT HIS OWN. ARE WE CLEAR ON THAT??? That was the original discussion not that to win the title every year was what I expect….Learn to read and come back….and thanks for playing, see the man behind the curtain for one of our lovely parting gifts.



    • 4everUKblue
      6:25 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      This is just below AZ can you read this?

      8xchamp June 28, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (3)
      We should have more titles, and if the next guy can win 1 or 2 in 10 years that’ll be fine. I love Cal, but averaging 3 lottery picks a year with 1 title bothers me a little.

      4everUKblue
      4everUKblue June 28, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink
      We could win it all every year and that wouldn’t be enough for some of you Cal critcs. Hell we should have had more titles under every coach… I would like more as well but I am very happy with Cal and what he has brought to Kentucky!



  7. 8xchamp
    9:47 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    We should have more titles, and if the next guy can win 1 or 2 in 10 years that’ll be fine. I love Cal, but averaging 3 lottery picks a year with 1 title bothers me a little.



    • 4everUKblue
      10:08 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      We could win it all every year and that wouldn’t be enough for some of you Cal critcs. Hell we should have had more titles under every coach… I would like more as well but I am very happy with Cal and what he has brought to Kentucky!

    • Hopefully it won’t be long before you can change your screen name 8xchamp!

      4everUKblue, you’re right, Joe B and Rickie P should probably have both won at least one more, but 2015 still stings. I’m not a Cal critic (I love that we have him), but “I calls ’em as I sees ’em”. Cal gagged in that game. He took his foot off the gas too early, and the same philosophy came pretty close to costing us both the UL and KU games in 2012. He was not the only reason we lost to Wisky, but he was a huge contributing factor.



    • 4everUKblue
      11:49 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      CG you’re right but at least Cal got us in position to win those games. Didn’t help that the officials missed/ignored the shot clock violation either.



    • Luether
      3:08 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      8xchamp, it bothers me a lot. A random YMCA coach would have won the 2015 championship with the guys Cal had…



    • 4everUKblue
      3:13 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      And just when you think it’s safe Luether the UK / Cal hater and a UofLittleBrothel fan raises his ugly head.



  8. runningunnin.454
    9:48 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    The main source of friction between Tubby and the UK faithful was the style of play. You can only watch so many 52-50 wins over Alabama.



    • 4everUKblue
      10:05 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      Yes it was the most boring basketball to watch, Pitino ball on the other hand was for me the most exciting basketball I have seen, that press was relentless so when the shots weren’t falling the defense became the offense.



  9. silverado
    10:52 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    Expectations will be VERY high of any coach who follows Cal. Number 1, recruiting. There’s likely to be an immediate uproar if the new coach brings in what BBN decides are sub-standard recruits. That will be new coach’s first challenge and even if new coach tries to be a Cal clone in terms of pitch for OADs, no coach in America has Cal’s rap. He is simply the greatest salesman out there. Number 2, wins. These will have to come pretty soon for new coach to avoid heat. Number 3, championships. Heat for lack of championships will depend somewhat on how Cal does during the remainder of his tenure. But I can’t decide whether it will be hotter for new coach if Cal does’t win any more or if he wins several more. The frustration of not winning any more may be so great that new coach will be on a short leash right away. On the other hand…he will be on a short leash anyway. New coach will have to be a strong man.



  10. Look Out Fireworks
    11:10 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    So following this line of thought, I Cal really that great of a coach? Or is he just the guy that followed BCG and that makes him look better?



    • 4everUKblue
      11:51 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      That’s just the dumbest question yet, doesn’t even deserve a response except that’s just idiotic.



    • Look Out Fireworks
      11:58 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

      And that’s about the dumbest response to sarcasm yet.



    • 4everUKblue
      2:31 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

      Nice cover up of a dumb question…no sarcasm intended



  11. Look Out Fireworks
    11:14 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    What if the guy to follow Calipari, was Calipari? Everyone know Brad wants to get into coaching. He’s at the perfect place to learn and has the perfect coach to learn from.

    If Brad was the coach, Cal would still be around and highly involved for a while and most of the staff could stay the same.

    He had the perfect mentor for being as great a recruiter and coach as his father… his father.



  12. sincitycat
    11:22 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    Coach Joe B. Hall is my unsung Kentucky Wildcat hero. The job he did following Coach Rupp (who did not make it easy for Coach Hall) was amazing. Thank you Coach Hall.



  13. UKinIN
    11:30 am June 28, 2017 Permalink

    The reason UK will be screwed when Calipari leaves will be the state of the roster. The turnover UK experiences every year requires the high level of recruiting that only Calipari and his staff can pull off. The year after Calipari leaves UK won’t have the talent to compete on a national level.



  14. Reuben Cuban
    6:48 pm June 28, 2017 Permalink

    Jurich forced out Crum to get Pitino.



  15. mcp157
    9:11 am June 29, 2017 Permalink

    Tubby was class act but ultimately did not have the recruiters to get the caliber player that BBN expects. As far as game coaching goes, he’s as good as either Rick or Cal. Let’s hope the NBA gets rid of the stupid rule of high school players having to go to college first and then the NCAA makes a two and done rule. Then if Cal leaves we’ll still have some of his recruits and I will bet UK will not pull another Billy Clyde move ever again.