Just when Texas Tech thought it was safe to feel good about its basketball program again, it could soon be on the lookout for yet another head coach.
Multiple outlets are reporting Red Raiders coach Tubby Smith has emerged as the leader to take over at Memphis. A source told CBSSports.com: “I’ll be surprised, at this point, if it’s not Tubby.” Smith could be the Tigers’ new coach within 24 hours, the website reports.
USA Today reports that Smith has informed Texas Tech officials that he is involved in the Memphis process and it is believed he would take an offer if it is made.
In his third season at Tech, Smith guided the Red Raiders to a 19-13 record and their first berth in the NCAA Tournament in nine seasons. He tied the NCAA tournament record by coaching his fifth school in the tournament. Apparently he’d appreciate the opportunity to make it six.
Memphis is looking to replace Josh Pastner, who left recently for Georgia Tech.
The Tigers boast a rich basketball tradition with a legion of loyal fans. Kentucky coach John Calipari led Memphis to the NCAA tournament championship game in 2008. Pastner took Memphis to the NCAA in four of his first five seasons, but the Tigers were no-shows the last two seasons.
Smith, 64, who won a championship in his first season at Kentucky, recorded five 20-win seasons in six years at Minnesota following his 10-year run with the Wildcats.
Fromer Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers took a chance in 2001 when he hired old friend Bob Knight after his contentious firing at Indiana. Knight got the Raiders into the NCAA tournament in his first season and four times in seven years.
The keys were passed to Knight’s son and assistant coach Pat Knight, but he was fired after the 2010-11 season. Tech hired Billy Gillispie, a marriage that never took off. Former Tech player Chris Walker coached one season before Tubbs took over.
Now, just three seasons later, and after its best season since in nearly a decade, Tech could be facing yet another coaching search.