Orlando "Tubby" Smith (born June 30, 1951 in Scotland, Saint Mary's County, Maryland) is the basketball coach at the University of Minnesota. He previously served in the same role at the University of Tulsa, the University of Georgia, and most recently, University of Kentucky.
Over his 15 seasons as a head coach, Smith has had 13 twenty-win seasons, making the NCAA Tournament each of those years. In 2005, he joined Roy Williams, Nolan Richardson, Denny Crum and Jim Boeheim as the only head coaches to win 365 games in 15 seasons or less. Entering the 2007 season, Smith's career record was 387-145 and his .733 winning percentage was eighth among active coaches.
Two of Smith's three sons are following in their father's coaching footsteps. "G. G." Smith, who played for his father at the University of Georgia, is currently an assistant coach at Armstrong Atlantic State University. Middle son Saul, who played for his father at the University of Kentucky, has joined his father as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota. Brian, the youngest son, is a junior reserve point guard at Ole Miss.
Smith is the sixth of 17 children born to sharecroppers Guffrie and Parthenia Smith. His large family accounts for his unusual nickname. Of all the Smith children, Tubby was most fond of staying in the galvanized washtub where the children were bathed. Smith says he tried to shake the moniker several times, but it stuck incessantly. He recalls that a 10th grade teacher who didn't tolerate nicknames was the last person to call him by his proper name, Orlando.
After having a scholarship offer from the University of Maryland rescinded, Smith enrolled at High Point College (now High Point University), graduating in 1973. He played under three different head coaches at High Point, including future boss J. D. Barnett. He lettered four times and was an all-conference performer as a senior. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education while at High Point, and also met his future wife, Donna, who was the homecoming queen.
After a brief stint in the Air Force, Smith began his coaching career with a four-year stint at his high school alma mater - Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland, compiling a 46-36 record. His next stop was Hoke County High School in Raeford, North Carolina, where he recorded a 28-18 mark in two seasons.
At the college level, Smith began as assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University under his former High Point coach J. D. Barnett. From 1979 to 1986, VCU amassed a 144-64 record, winning three Sun Belt Conference Championships.
Smith took two important things away from his experience as an assistant coach for the Rams. First, under Barnett, Smith learned the principles of the ball-line defense, a hallmark of Smith's teams throughout his head coaching career. Second was a relationship with fellow assistant David Hobbs, an assistant and associate head coach under Smith during his tenure at the Kentucky.
Smith left Virginia Commonwealth in 1986 to join George Felton's staff at the University of South Carolina. Felton remembered Smith from having recruited one of his players while Smith was at Hoke High School. During Smith's three years, the Gamecocks were 53-35. Later, roles would be reversed, with Smith bringing Felton in as an assistant coach at Kentucky.
Smith joined the University of Kentucky under then head coach Rick Pitino, who had the dubious honor of rebuilding a UK program that had been rocked by NCAA probation and player defections.
With only eight scholarship student-athletes, none taller than 6-7, the staff molded the Cats into winners once again, exceeding expectations to record a 14-14 mark. The following year, with Smith promoted to associate coach and UK still on probation, the Wildcats earned a 22-6 record, a final ranking of ninth in the AP poll, and an SEC-best 14-4 record.
Smith wasn't the only soon-to-be high profile name on Pitino's coaching staff at Kentucky. Future head coaches Ralph Willard, Herb Sendek, Billy Donovan, and Bernadette Mattox were all Smith's colleagues.
From 1991 to 1995, Smith led Tulsa to a 79-43 record. Rebuilding the basketball program his first two years, he then led the team to two consecutive Missouri Valley Conference regular season titles and two appearances in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in 1994 and 1995. Smith's 1994 Tulsa team upset UCLA in the tourney's first round before knocking off Oklahoma State. In '95, the Hurricane blew away Big-Ten power Illinois to open March Madness.
On March 29, 1995, Smith accepted the head coaching job at the University of Georgia, becoming the school's first African-American head coach. In two seasons, he led the Bulldogs to a 45-19 record, including the first back-to-back seasons of 20 wins or more in school history. His teams achieved a Sweet 16 finish in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Clemson to open the '96 tournament before upsetting the top-seeded Purdue Boilermakers.
Smith was introduced as the Wildcats' 20th head coach on May 12, 1997, charged with the unenviable task of replacing popular coach Rick Pitino, who had left to become the head coach of the NBA's Boston Celtics. The Wildcats were at the top of the basketball world at the time, having won a national title in 1996 and, according to many, missing a second straight title in 1997 by the torn ACL of shooting guard Derek Anderson. (Anderson tore his ACL in January against SEC foe Auburn; Kentucky lost the 1997 title game in overtime to the Arizona Wildcats.) The team Smith inherited sported seven players from the Arizona loss, and five from the 1996 championship team. However, since most of the players who had left after the 1996 and 1997 seasons were high NBA draft picks, his team had the lowest pre-season ranking since Kentucky came off prohbation in 1991.
In his first season at UK, he coached the Wildcats to their seventh NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, including a come-from-behind victory against Duke in the Elite Eight. His 1998 National Championship is unique in modern times, as being the only team in over twenty years to win without a First Team All American or future NBA Lottery Pick. (see 1998 NCAA Tournament).
Smith's teams, known primarily for a defense-oriented slower style of play coined "Tubbyball", received mixed reviews among Kentucky fans who have historically enjoyed a faster, higher-scoring style of play under previous coaches. Smith was also under pressure from Kentucky fans to recruit better players.
Smith led Kentucky to one National Championship in 1998, a perfect 16-0 regular season conference record in 2003, five SEC regular season championships (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005) and five SEC Tournament titles (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004), with six Sweet Sixteen finishes and four Elite Eight finishes (1998, 1999, 2003, 2005) in his nine seasons. He totaled 100 wins quicker than any other Wildcat coach except Hall of Famer Adolph Rupp, reaching the plateau in 130 games.
Although Smith compiled an impressive resume during his UK career, he came under considerable pressure from many UK fans, who believed that his failure to achieve even a single Final Four appearance in his last nine seasons was inadequate by UK standards. On March 22, 2007, Smith resigned his position of UK Head Coach to accept the head coach position at the University of Minnesota.
Smith was hired as the new men's head coach of the University of Minnesota on March 22, 2007. He replaces Dan Monson who resigned from Minnesota on November 30, 2006 and Jim Molinari who had been serving as the interim coach since Monson's resignation. Smith joins Minnesota after several disappointing seasons for the Gophers. Since Monson was brought in from Gonzaga on July 4, 1999 to rebuild a Minnesota program scandalized by academic fraud during Clem Haskins' regime, the Gophers made the NCAA Tournament just one time, and in 2006-07 endured the first twenty loss season in their history.
Although he has yet to finalize his contract with the Gophers, Smith signed an agreement on March 23 that includes $1.75 million guaranteed annually and bonuses that could push his income past $3 million.
Smith had assembled what he calls the Best Staff in the Country. “My goal was to assemble one of, if not the best, staff in the country and I believe that goal has been reached,” Minnesota head men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith said. “I have close professional and personal ties to each coach on this staff, and with familiarity brings understanding, of the way we want to run this program. They understand what it will take to bring the Gopher program to the top of college basketball.”
U.S. Olympic Basketball
Smith was selected to help coach the 2000 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team in Sydney. He served as an assistant to then-Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich as the Americans met the high expectations set for them, capturing the gold medal.
Currently, he serves on the NCAA Committee to study basketball issues, joining Duke's Krzyzewski and Oregon's Ernie Kent. He serves on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors and in June 2000, spoke at a Congressional hearing on the issue of gambling in college sports.Coaches