Orlando "Tubby" Smith

Is Tubby driving the bus at Minnesota?


I’m fascinated by Tubby Smith. He’s a national title winner, he’s mentioned in at least one prominent job search every season, yet the general feeling surrounding him in any given campaign since he left Kentucky in 2007 can best be summed up with the internet staple word ‘meh’.

Perhaps it’s because he’s never managed better than 9-9 in the ultra-competitive Big Ten, and has fallen to 6-12 in each of his last two seasons in the Twin Cities. Perhaps its the sense that his signature success at Kentucky was a fluke, accomplished with players left behind by Rick Pitino. Regardless, Smith’s presence makes Minnesota relevant even when the team doesn’t win. The two sides of that coin were coded into the details of Smith’s recent contract extension.

One part of the contract revealed Smith’s weakness. He’s afraid he’ll get fired. He got the university to agree that he could not be fired mid-season, and if the university fires him, they must pay him $2.5 million, up from $1.5 million in the prior deal.

Several of the details revealed his ‘meh’ status, as well. His base salary was established in 2007 as $600,000 with annual 5% increases. No increase in either of those terms has been reported. Instead, piles of performance-based incentives were ladled onto the contract. For instance, if Smith and his Gophers win the NCAA tournament, he gets $1.5 million. Not to be a negative Nelly, but I’m betting neither side of the negotiating table thinks that one’s going to be paid out. It’s a concession that costs the university nothing, and saves a little face for Smith.

The upshot of the contract is sort of a short-term vote of confidence disguised as a long-term vote of confidence. The $2.5 million buyout is probably the strongest indicator that Minnesota plans to keep Smith around for a while longer. Of course, an upper-echelon finish in the 2013 Big Ten, on the shoulders of Trevor Mbakwe, would go a long ways toward making Smith sit a little easier.


VIDEO: Marshawn Wilson dunks over teammate

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Marshawn Wilson, a freshman guard, made a pretty good first impression to Northern Illinois fans, jumping over 6-foot-8 teammate, Jaylen Key, on Thursday night during the Hukies’ midnight madness.

Wilson is five inches shorter.

The Huskies are coming off a 14-18 (8-10 MAC) season. Northern Illinois begins the 2015-16 campaign against Cal State Northridge on Nov. 13, the first of three games in as many days.

VIDEO Ron Hunter dances at Georgia State’s midnight madness

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Georgia State’s Ron Hunter appears to have recovered from the Achilles tendon tear he suffered last March while celebrating the Panthers winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title.

On Thursday night, at the third annual GSU Jam, Hunter broke out the dance moves to the song “Hit The Quan” by iHeart Memphis.

Georgia State went on to defeat No. 3 seed Baylor in the Round of 64, thanks to a game-winning three from Hunter’s son, R.J. That shot made for one of the best moments of March Madness, as Ron Hunter fell of his rolling chair in disbelief.

R.J. Hunter is nowa a rookie with the Boston Celtics. Ron Hunter enters his fifth season with the Panthers.