Wednesday, March 13, 2013
No Win/Win Situation (without dreaming) Left for Gopher Fans
Ready for the only win/win situation the Gophers could pull out of this season? Don’t laugh...it could happen…I mean I suppose pigs technically could fly as well as attend Gopher games with a cow, chicken and the Easter bunny.
Here it is:
It starts with winning the B1G tournament this weekend, finding that swagger they had earlier this year. Go into the NCAA’s on a high, with a higher seeding (let’s say a 4 seed) and make an improbable run to the National Title, proving that wins over Indiana (yes “winS”, they would have to get past them in the second round of the B1G tourney) were just a precursor to the fact they could actually beat anyone in the country. Then after cutting down the nets in Atlanta, Tubby Smith announces that he would like to go out on top, and retires.
The program is now considered multiple times more elite than it was just weeks before and they have their pick of coaching candidates. Shaka Smart decides the Minnesota length and athleticism is perfect for his freaky pressing style of play and signs a long-term deal. All comes up roses!
That is the dream scenario, and the only scenario I see ALL Gopher fans moving forward with a positive outlook. From my observational polling and communication with Gopher fans I’d say 80% don’t want to see Tubby Smith return next year. It isn’t scientific, and probably isn’t right, but I think I can safely say it’s at the very least more than half.
On the court is probably the least likely place Gopher fans end the season on a positive note. Maybe a NIT title, which also seems far-fetched, could yield a smile or two. The NCAA tournament still, somehow, seems like the post-season tournament the floundering Gophers will participate in. There they will almost certainly, depending on matchup, lose in the first round and mercifully end the epic collapse of such a promising season.
Gopher fans will look back and see that on the court the Gophers had a team capable of playing admirably against Duke and able to beat #1 Indiana, but by the end of the season couldn’t get past teams like Nebraska or Purdue or get out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Off the court seems more likely that Gopher fans look towards positively. Tubby Smith is likely going to be fired at the end of this season. His buyout is a $2.5 million, but that number doesn’t go down next year, a year in which no major recruits are coming in wearing a cape ready to save Orlando Smith from another 10+ loss disappointment. Do realize, Tubby only has had 8 seasons in 22 coached in which his team didn’t lose 10 or more games. In the past eight years, Tubby is 8-8 on 10 loss seasons, two of those with Kentucky. Norwood would have to read the writing on the wall, “Tubby Smith is average”, and move on.
OK, so let’s say the impossible happens, the Gophers string together multiple good efforts in a row these next couple weekends and make a Sweet 16 run. On the court, I’d say most Gopher fans would be thrilled. Off the court then becomes the thorn in their proverbial side. How is Norwood Teague going to fire Tubby Smith, pay the $2.5 million AND pay a new guy worth a damn while coming off a year in which Tubby got his team ranked as high as #8, upset #1 in the Barn and made the Sweet 16? He isn’t.
Meaning if my observational polling is correct, over 50% of Gopher fans will be upset about the off the court Gopher basketball issues, Tubby would be roaming the sidelines again.
The choice is clear for Gopher fans:
A positive finish with a couple wins/Tubby back next year
A negative finish with a couple more losses/Tubby gone (SHAKA!?!?!?!)
Neither choice, just like the Gophers lately, is putting two “wins” together.