Former Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith Returning to Rupp Arena
Okay, I'll fess up. I've been arguing with a couple of people on Facebook about Tubby Smith again.
"He only won the national title in 1998 because he had Pitino's recruits."
If I've heard that once, I've heard it a million times. And it always baffles me when those who say that seem to forget that that team had to be COACHED. Here's another good point, if I do say so myself. Tubby got the 'Cats into the '98 Final Four by beating hated DUKE in the Elite Eight in an absolute thriller. I lost my voice a little while watching it. Kentucky came back from 17 down to beat the top-seeded Blue Devils 86-84. I'm not done. Considering how reviled Duke basketball is among the Big Blue faithful, you'd think they'd cut Tubby WAY more slack, seeing as how UK has only beaten the Devils TWICE in the last 40 years (Mike Krzyzewski's entire tenure, by the way). The other win happened five years ago, a 74-63 victory at the Champions Classic.
So yeah, I'll get on my soapbox about Tubby Smith--an excellent Xs & Os coach, and a very good man--anytime.
And I'll do it again when he returns to Rupp Arena during the 2021-2022 season.
That's right, Tubby Smith will bring his High Point Panthers back to Lexington for a game that really has UK head coach John Calipari--he and Tubby are good friends--very excited.
I'm anxious to see how Cal and Kentucky honor the only UK coach in history to NEVER miss the NCAA Tournament during his tenure. What's more, Tubby never lost a first-round game in the Big Dance in any of those ten years.
I say put a jersey with his name on it in the rafters. He won a national championship. Shouldn't that be good enough for any Wildcat fan?
At this writing, UK has not yet released its full schedule, but I do know that the 'Cats will face off against Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic; Notre Dame and Kansas on the road (ouch); Louisville (of course); and...wait for it...Duke in the season opener at the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 9th.
It will be Coach K's last regular-season game against Kentucky (can't totally rule out the possibility of a tourney tilt next spring).
I love the potential irony here. In that 1998 tournament game, Tubby Smith and Kentucky ended Duke's season. Maybe the BEGINNING of Duke's final season with Krzyzewski at the helm will yield the same result.
And in the same season in which Tubby came back to Rupp.
I'm here for all of it.
SIDE NOTE: And if you plan on attending that game, don't forget about the fun nearby attractions that appear on this list...