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Profile of a Possible Savior REDUX: Tubby Smith

....That's IT! I'm going to Memphis...

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Spring 2011, after years in the wilderness, NC State parted ways with Sidney Lowe and were in the business of finding someone to save us. The media portrayed us as being rejected numerous times, so eventually Mark Gottfried ended up answering the call and has experienced positive-to-mixed results over his 5 year tenure. This series will take a hop in the TARDIS and theorize whether or not we would have been better (or worse) with another candidate from Backing the Pack's famed, award-winning* Profile Of A Possible Savior series or POAPS for short.

*validity of statement under question

(All stats & figures from Wikipedia, KenPom, &

Mark Gottfried's tenure at NC State:

Layman Stats

Overall Record

108-69 (.610)

Conference Record

44-44 (.5)

NCAA Appearances

4 (2 Sweet Sixteens)

Conference Titles


4/5 Stars Signed


Geek Stats (KenPom)

Average National Rank Overall


Average Adj O / Avg National Rank

112.6 / 24

Average Adj D / Avg National Rank

100.1 / 115

Next Up

Memphis Head Coach Tubby Smith

In The Beginning

Tubby was a rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home. Whether that be in Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, or Louisiana, Tubby Smith has traversed more places than Carmen Sandiego. In 2011, Tubby had just come off a subpar season with the Golden Gophers after having taken them to the NCAA tourney twice in previous years. What made Tubby an intriguing prospect for our job opening was his success at multiple stops (including a national title at UK), his skill at building programs and his strong defensive mindset. Yet the POAPS series questioned inconsistencies in his recruiting as well as his lack of NCAA and in-conference success post-UK. Overall the POAPS series was very positive about the potential hiring of Tubby Smith, at least in the short term.

5 Years Later...

Layman Stats (All combination of time at Minnesota of Big 10 & TTU of Big 12)

Overall Record

90-78 (.54)

Conference Record

32-58 (.36)

NCAA Appearances


Conference Titles


4/5 Stars Signed


Geek Stats (KenPom) All combination of time at Minnesota of Big 10 & TTU of Big 12

Average Rank


Average Adj O / National Rank

108.2/ 85

Average Adj D / National Rank

98.7 / 88

Tubby's skill set seems to be taking programs who are struggling and building them up to make them competitive. Two NCAA appearances and one NIT would be pretty good for most programs, especially considering the lack of historical success Minnesota and TTU have had over the years. Despite extremely poor in-conference records, both programs made the NCAA in his final year at both schools after missing the previous two. This proves Tubby can improve moribund programs over time. If you recall NC State was such a program at that time, having missed five straight NCAAs despite bringing in 4/5 star talent over the course of those years. So while he had his deficiencies, Tubby would've been a massive upgrade over our previous head coach.

Would He Have Recruited Better Than Gottfried?

Recruiting to Minnesota and Texas Tech is not the same as recruiting to NC State, but Tubby clearly brought in plenty of pro-level talent during his time at UK. So now that we have gotten that out of the way, the answer to this question is no. In 5 years Tubby signed one 4 or 5 star player compared to Gottfried's 10. A coach with the pedigree of Tubby Smith should still be able to bring in high level talent to two Power 5 conference schools. Texas, especially, is ripe with basketball talent, and while the competition is heavy, Smith could've done much better than he has.

Advantage: Gottfried

Would He Have a Better Offense Than Gottfried?

Over the past 5 years, Smith has had a couple of very good offenses (12-13 & 15-16) and one that was disgusting beyond measure (14-15). Yet throughout it all, his offenses come in at a very average 85 in overall rank. Gottfried, as we have discussed, has had near elite offenses over his 5 years at State with his averages being much better than Tubby Smith's. Now it is only fair to acknowledge that transitioning to a new team, especially that disastrous TTU situation, is going to bring about some growing pains but it's also fair to say that his offenses have been relatively inconsistent.

Advantage: Gottfried

Would He Have a Better Defense Than Gottfried?

Yes. And um...quite. And uh...hell yeah. POAPS was right in the initial assessment that Tubby Smith would be a better defensive coach than Sidney Lowe but it's also true he'd be better than Mark Gottfried. With an average national rank of 88 in Adj D compared to Gottfried's 115, it's clear who cares more about the D. Tubby has had his challenges, but early in this time frame he had some very good defenses. Even though those defenses tapered off over the last 3 years, Tubby has been a much better defensive coach than Mark Gottfried.

Advantage: Smith


There are a number of factors to consider when wondering if Tubby Smith would've been a better hire than Mark Gottfried. Gottfried took Sid Lowe's players (and Alex Johnson) to the Sweet Sixteen in year one. There is enough evidence to hypothesize that Tubby would've also had some success with the talent Sid brought in. This would be especially evident on the defensive end. Now whether that means he'd initially have a deeper run than the Sweet Sixteen is open to debate. A problem with Tubby is his penchant to change jobs after only a few years since he left UK. In 8 years, Tubby has been hired by three different schools. Also note that his move from Minnesota to TTU was somewhat lateral in it's not like he left to get a better job. Question is would he have remained at NC State for the long haul? Or would he have taken whatever temporary success he had here and parlayed that into another job before the going got tough? State isn't a program that is known to have much patience if we aren't consistently making NCAA runs or recruiting at a high level. With him now being in his 60s, Tubby's track record these past 5 years doesn't show much evidence he could do either. Add that with his struggles to finish in even just the upper half the conference, and I surmise that Tubby Smith wouldn't have been a better hire than Mark Gottfried

Next Time

The Golden Child Texas Head Coach, Shaka Smart