Coming off his second season as the Memphis Tigers men’s basketball head coach, Tubby Smith is on his way out. Going 21-13 this past season, he would also take the Tigers to a AAC semifinals bid last Saturday.
I appreciate the opportunity to have led the University of Memphis basketball program for the last two years. I'm proud of the work my staff and I have done to serve the players, the school and the community in leading us to a 21-13 season this year.
— Tubby Smith (@CoachTubbySmith) March 15, 2018
What Caused It?
Many are questioning the decision to fire Smith from Memphis. A lot feel that Smith was being thrust into an unwinnable situation, inheriting a total team rebuild. Entering Memphis in 2016, his first season would be a winning season, going 19-13.
Are we seriously talking about firing a coach that inherited a total rebuild and has 21 wins and is playing in conference Semis in his second year! Unbelievable‼️ Wake up before you lose an all time great coach and person. #TubbySmith
— Adam Williams (@CoachAdamW) March 9, 2018
Speaking about the rumors, Smith would confirm that he is no longer the head coach for the Memphis Tigers. The reports would begin on Tuesday, circulating mainly around who would replace him.
Before leaving the program, Smith would offer some final words as the coach of the Tigers. The search is on for a new coach, and the Tigers appear to be putting the house on an NBA legend.
Who’s Replacing Him?
Amidst the rumors of possible replacements, there seems to be only one name that Memphis will pursue. The Tigers appear to be going all in on a former Olympic player and NBA All Star: Penny Hardaway.
I’m told agents making calls to Memphis today to see about getting a client involved are being told there is essentially no coaching search. It’s all Penny Hardaway and only Penny Hardaway.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 14, 2018
According to ESPN, Hardaway would potentially target Larry Brown to be his assistant coach. Hardaway is “actively preparing to be a college coach” according to CBS Sports. This won’t be Hardaway’s first rodeo as coach, should he get the position. Firstly, he is currently operating the Team Penny Nike EYBL program. Secondly, he is also coaching at East High in Memphis.
One interesting possibility I’ve heard surface from multiple people around the Memphis situation is Penny Hardaway looking at Mike Miller as an assistant or staff member.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 12, 2018
Being involved in both programs, Hardaway has ties to three of the top-40 players of 2019. One of those ties is with the No. 1 prospect James Wiseman.
All in all, the Tigers are banking it all on the former Orlando Magic star. Ultimately, the Tigers are now facing, once again, a total rebuild to their coaching staff. Will Memphis be able to get the legend as the face of the franchise?
Finally, stick with ESPN 98.1 FM – 850 AM WRUF for more on the coaching search for Memphis.