CONCERNED FANS FOR
March 22, 2007
ARE TUBBY SMITH CRITICS UNREASONABLE?
As yet another Kentucky basketball season stumbled to a miserable conclusion, Tubby Smith and his few remaining allies have embarked upon a desperate campaign to save his job. This apparently professional public relations campaign has three main components.
First, though he shunned Mitch Barnhart's public admonition to make more public appearances to promote the program, Smith has appeared on every television and radio program that would have him to promote himself , declaring to all who will listen that he has done a good job.
Second, he has elicited the support of his coaching brethren to speak out in his support, as if any of them has ever publicly criticized one of their own. If Smith is so good, why do all these coaches find it necessary to remind us?
Finally, with less success, he has elicited the support of the print media. In this effort, the Lexington Herald Leader is his only unfailing ally.
The not-too-subtle goal of this campaign is to lower expectations and marginalize Smith's critics, portraying them as a disgruntled few who have mercilessly subjected Smith to unreasonable expectations and irrational criticism. Attacking the messenger is a common ploy of politicians who wish to avoid the facts. But basketball coaches?
Kentucky is the winningest basketball program in history. We have averaged 20 wins per season for 100 years. UK has won seven national championships, has appeared in thirteen Final Fours, and has the second most Final Four victories in history. Measured against historical standards, are the fans unreasonable to expect Kentucky to do better than Smith's record?
Is it unreasonable to expect UK to make the Final Four once in nine years? Over the past nine years, 22 different teams have reached the Final Four. Nine have made repeat appearances. Not Kentucky.
Is it unreasonable to expect to beat at least one ranked team during a season? UK failed to do so for the first time in 33 years.
Is it unreasonable for fans to be upset when UK finishes unranked for the second straight season? This has not happened in 46 years.
Is it unreasonable for fans to be upset about losing ten or more games in five of the last eight seasons? It has never before happened in UK history.
Is it unreasonable for fans to decry losing to an SEC opponent six consecutive times? It has never before happened in UK history.
Smith's failures at Kentucky are well documented and undeniable by any rational person. Even Smith, when pressed, admits that winning 20 games and just making the NCAA Tournament is not the goal at Kentucky. Yet Smith says that, “ “I know I'm the guy for the job because I've done the job and we've done it every year." He even had the audacity to recently declare that, “I don't look at this year as anything but a success.”
So, who is being unreasonable?
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