Over the course of a storied 37-year coaching career, Tubby Smith has established himself as one of the legends of college basketball. He has been a part of 771 collegiate wins, 23 NCAA Tournament appearances and won the 1998 NCAA championship since he began as an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth in 1979.
Truly a gentleman's gentleman and regarded in the profession as one of the most respected and dynamic coaches, Smith has become the quintessential ambassador for Texas Tech University and the City of Lubbock since he was named the Red Raiders' 16th head coach on April 1, 2013. He has brought stability and a calming influence to a program that previously employed three coaches over a three-year span prior to his arrival.
Smith has enjoyed an unprecedented level of success through an energetic and positive approach to the game. He has amassed 538 victories over his 24-year head coaching career which includes previous stops at Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky and Minnesota. The 538 wins rank 18th among active NCAA Division I coaches and 63rd on the NCAA Division I all-time list.
Smith has compiled an impressive list of accolades which include the 1998 National Championship with Kentucky, four NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearances, seven National Coach of the Year awards, seven regular season conference championships, seven conference tournament titles, nine NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 trips and 19 seasons of 20-plus victories fueled by 17 NCAA Tournament appearances. The 19, 20-plus win seasons are tied for seventh among active Division I head coaches.
These accomplishments, however, are not what makes Smith one of the most decorated coaches in the history of the game, but rather it is his insatiable desire to accomplish more. He has landed Tech's best recruiting classes in a decade, won the most conference games since 2008, visited the White House and served on a national panel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff since his arrival.
In his first season at Texas Tech, Smith led the Red Raiders to a trio of Top 25 wins in 2013-14 which began with an 82-72 win over No. 12 Baylor on January 15, 2014. The Baylor win ended a lengthy losing streak to ranked opponents which dated back to the 2008-09 season. Last season, the Red Raiders also picked up a 78-73 victory over No. 9 Iowa State to collect the program's first win over a Top 10 squad since March 4, 2009.
Smith's energy throughout the Lubbock community and among Texas Tech students has brought enthusiasm back to United Supermarkets Arena. The Red Raiders have played in front of four crowds of 12,000-plus under Smith, a program first since 2004-05. Highlighted among that group was Tech's first sellout since 2007 against Oklahoma State on February 8, 2014.
Smith is one of seven active head coaches to secure over 500 wins and a national championship. He also is one of nine coaches in college basketball history to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament. The list includes Gene Bartow, John Belein, Lefty Driesell, Jim Harrick, Lon Kruger, Tom Penders, Rick Pitino and Eddie Sutton. With a NCAA Tournament berth at Texas Tech, Smith will join Kruger as the only coaches to guide five teams to the Big Dance in college basketball history.
In October 2015, Smith was announced as the 18th recipient of the 2016 John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” award which recognizes coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standards of coaching success and personal integrity. The recipients are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rates of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy and identification with the goals of the Wooden Award. He will be presented with the award at the 2nd annual ESPN College Basketball Awards Show on April 8, 2016.
At Minnesota (2007-13)
Smith guided the Gophers to three consecutive 20-plus win seasons for the first time in program history during his opening three seasons at Minnesota. The Gophers registered a 20-14 record and a NIT bid in 2007-08. Minnesota's 11-win improvement was the largest season turnaround in school history and tied for the second-best Division I turnaround during that season.
The Gophers raced out to a 12-0 non-conference record and the fifth-best start in program history during Smith's second season in 2008-09. After nine conference wins and an opening round victory in the Big 10 Tournament, Minnesota was awarded a No. 10 seed in the NCAAs.
Smith continued Minnesota's success during the 2009-10 season as the Gophers collected back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths for the first time since 1993-94 and 1994-95. Minnesota punched its ticket to the Big 10 Tournament Championship Game for the first time in program history after wins over No. 11 Michigan State and No. 6 Purdue on consecutive days.
The Gophers tallied 23 wins and a NIT runner-up finish in 2011-12. Minnesota returned to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed during Smith's final season and knocked off No. 6 seed UCLA by 20 points. It was the Gophers first non-probation NCAA victory since 1990. Minnesota fell to eventual NCAA Elite Eight participant Florida in the next round.
At Kentucky (1998-2007)
Smith became the first coach since Cincinnati's Ed Jucker in 1961 to win a national title during his first season. Kentucky overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Utah, 78-69, for the 1998 NCAA Championship. The 10-point halftime comeback is the largest deficit overcame in an NCAA title game. The team known as the "Comeback Cats" also erased a 17-point hole with 11 minutes to play during its NCAA Elite Eight win over Duke and wiped away 10-point deficit over the final 17 minutes to secure an overtime win over Stanford in the NCAA National Semifinals.
Kentucky racked up a 35-4 mark during Smith's inaugural season, the first of two 30-plus win campaigns for Smith with the Wildcats. The 1998 squad won 25 of its last 27 games sparked by 13 straight wins to close out the season and are one of only two teams in NCAA history joining 1950 City College of New York to win the national championship without having an Associated Press All-American or future Associated Press All-American on its roster.
Smith would garner three NCAA Elite Eight trips (1993, 2003, 2005), four SEC regular season titles (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005) and four SEC Tournament crowns (1999, 2001, 2003, 2004) during his UK tenure. Consistent success fueled the Wildcats, which finished with 20-plus victories and advanced past the NCAA Tournament First Round in every season of Smith's decade in Lexington.
The 2002-03 squad became the first SEC team since Kentucky's 1951-52 squad to complete an undefeated conference regular season and win the conference tournament title in the same year. Smith earned all seven national coach of the year honors recognized by the NCAA that season -- AP, USBWA, Naismith, Basketball Times, The Sports News, NABC and CBS/Chevrolet. He became the first consensus National Coach of the Year since 1975 when Indiana's Bob Knight accomplished the feat when he captured all five of the awards at the time.
Smith reached the 400-victory plateau in 2007-08 and accumulated the sixth-best record of any head coach in their first 17 seasons in NCAA history. That prestigious list includes Roy Williams, Denny Crum, Jim Boeheim, Nolan Richardson and Jerry Tarkanian.
At Georgia (1995-97)
Georgia turned in a 21-10 mark in his inaugural 1995-96 season and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16, the farthest the Bulldogs had advanced in the NCAA Tournament previously since 1983. As a No. 8 seed, UGA defeated Clemson and toppled No. 1 seed Purdue before falling to eventual national runner-up Syracuse on a last-second shot.
After losing all five starters and eight seniors from the previous season, Smith molded a young Georgia squad to a 24-9 record, which equaled the school's single-season wins total and guided the squad to an appearance in the 1997 SEC Tournament Championship Game. It also marked the second time in program history that the Bulldogs notched consecutive NCAA Tournament bids.
At Tulsa (1991-95)
As a No. 12 seed in 1994, Tulsa upset No. 5 seed UCLA and stunned No. 4 seed Oklahoma State before falling to eventual national champion Arkansas. The Golden Hurricane knocked off Illinois and Old Dominion in 1995 as Tulsa compiled a combined 47-16 record over those two seasons.
NBA Players and International Experience
Nine of the Smith's players have heard their names called on draft day. Rondo, Magloire, Mohammed, Padgett and Prince were each first round draft picks, while Anderson, Bogans, Meeks and Ruffin each went in the second round. Prince also was a member of the United States basketball team that won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
Smith was chosen to help coach the 2000 United States Olympic Basketball Team in Sydney, Australia. He served as an assistant to former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich as the Americans won its third consecutive gold medal.
Smith is the sixth-oldest of 17 children raised on a rural farm in Southern Maryland. He and his wife Donna, have three sons, a daughter, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren: Orlando (G.G.) Smith, who is the head coach at Loyola University in Maryland and his wife Lorie, granddaughter Jayna Marie and son Ross; Saul Smith, who serves as the director of video production at Texas Tech; daughter Trish Smith, who is the Vice President of Edelman in Washington, D.C. and Brian Smith, who is an assistant coach and physical education teacher in Florida and his wife Jennifer.