Tubby is the talk of the town. The question Monday is, will the Memphis Tigers basketball coach stay or go? Tubby Smith is expected to meet with university officials Tuesday.
The meeting comes as Memphis basketball fans anxiously await news from the university on whether Smith will be replaced by NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway. Hardaway is currently the basketball coach at East High School in Memphis.
Saturday, Tubby Smith was asked by reporters if he felt his job was in jeopardy. He responded with two words.
“Who knows,” said Tubby. That response came after his team lost to Cincinnati.
Rumors have been swirling that his job is on the line, a fate he could learn as early as Tuesday.
On campus Monday, Tubby was the hot topic.
“I’ve been listening to sports radio all day,” said Herron Bond. “I think he’s gone. I really do. I think they’ll let him go tomorrow. His buyout is real expensive but other than that there’s no reason not to get rid of him.”
A major reason the head coach could be tossed is the financial crisis facing the university’s athletic department. Contributions are down nearly $1.1 million, and most of that money is tied to ticket sales.
Fans Local 24 spoke to said when they’re at a game, they want to see a packed house.
“I went to two games this year and both of them were non-energetic games,” said Bond. “There weren’t a lot of people there. It wasn’t a lot of fun.”
“The bottom line is the attendance is down,” said faculty member Sam Shoup.
Shoup believes Penny Hardaway could be the key to turning that all around.
“Penny could revitalize and invigorate the community,” he said.
If Tubby is let go, the buyout would be steep. His contract says if let go, he would have to be paid $10 million. At that price, some Tigers fans believe the University should keep him.
“He’s only been here two years,” said Jane Cherry. “We just need to support our Tigers and support our coach and just give him another year.”