Tubby Smith may have set a record Monday for condescending and hypocritical comments in one 2-minute rant. Congratulations on being the newest recipient of the Sports Walk of Shame.
The University of Memphis basketball coach, one of the most successful coaches in college athletics, basically said any college athlete who transfers to another school is a quitter.
The rant started when Smith was asked whether all his players were coming back next season.
“Kids have a lot of options now,’’ Smith said. “Guys can do what they want. Never seen anything like it. We had over 800 Division I players transfer last year. Over 800!
“Come on. We’re teaching these kids to quit. That’s what we’re doing. Things not going well? Let’s quit.”
No Tubby, they aren’t quitting. They are looking out for their best interest and moving on to a better situation. You know, Tubby, like coaches “quitting” on the players they recruited to go elsewhere.
If a kid sees a better opportunity to play regularly and showcase his or her skills, why is that quitting? Quitting would be to sit there on the bench, at the coach’s discretion, and not care whether he played or not.
Oh, I know what you mean, Tubby. The players should be willing to suck it up and compete and not pout if they don’t have a chance to play. God forbid a young man should actually try to find the place where he fits best and get a shot at doing what he came to college to do.
Smith used his college career as an example when he called his father and said he wanted to come home.
“You can’t come home,’’ his father told him, “but you can join the Army.”
Try telling that you your players, Tubby, who want to switch to another university.
The problem here is so many college coaches still feel like student athletes are their personal property rather that an independent individual who should have every right to move to any college he chooses if he feels it might improve his situation.
“Somebody needs to tell them, ‘You made a commitment,’ ’’ Smith said. “Stick to it.”
You mean, like all those college coaches do, Tubby, the ones who recruit these kids and gain their trust only to walk away for a better offer at another school?
You know Tubby, like you.
Smith has been a head coach at six NCAA Division I universities. In one stretch, he moved from Tulsa to Georgia to Kentucky from 1995 to 1997. In another stretch, Smith went from Minnesota to Texas Tech to Memphis from 2013 to 2016.
And now Smith has a salary of $3.1 million per year. Well, I guess it’s a good thing you didn’t join the Army, Tubby, but you sure were willing to ‘‘quit” on a lot of schools to keep that ever-increasing paycheck coming in.
And you didn’t have to sit out a year to do it, as many college athletes do. For example, highly-recruited quarterback Jacob Eason transferred from Georgia at Washington last month. But he has to sit out the 2018 season, per NCAA rules.
Smith has “transferred’’ five times as a head coach. Hey, I don’t blame him one bit. Every person should move on in order to better themselves, including college athletes. That doesn’t make them quitters.
Here are three quarterbacks that transferred to other universities to improve their situation: Russell Wilson (North Carolina State to Wisconsin), Troy Aikman (Oklahoma to UCLA), Joe Flacco (Pittsburgh to Delaware).
Quitters? I don’t think so.
Sadly, Smith isn’t alone in his feelings. The hypocrisy is common among college coaches. Signing a scholarship to attend a university shouldn’t handcuff any student athlete. If things don’t go well or another school offers a better opportunity, he or she should have the right to leave without penalty.
Coaches do it all the time and make millions of dollars in doing so. The players who make them rich should have the same privilege.