(note: This interview only happened in the frightening arena that is my imagination. The real Orlando “Tubby” Smith was not involved in any way.)
TAMVP: Welcome Tubby, congratulations on last night’s thrilling overtime victory versus Wisconsin, even though the only reason you won was because of a boneheaded mistake by the Badgers in the closing seconds.
TS: Thanks, the players finally did what I told them to do and we won the game. Good things happen when they listen to me.
TAMVP: That’s great. You’ve had quite the up and down season so far, with early season success pushing you all the way up to #8 followed by your usual conference swoon which has dropped you guys completely out of the rankings. What has been the cause of this schizophrenic season?
TS: It’s all on the players. I know I recruited them, I coach them, and basically I control every aspect of the program and therefore am ultimately responsible for the results, but it really has been their fault we aren’t more consistent. I mean, come on, I’m a national championship winning coach.
TAMVP: Well as long as were on the subject of criticizing the players, many people say you call out players far too often and shift all the blame to them whenever things aren’t going well. There have even been reports that bus fares in Minneapolis will have to be increased to repair all the the buses damaged by your constantly throwing your players under them. Why is it so hard for you to accept any responsibility for your team’s failings?
TS: Look, I’m a national championship winning coach; some people may say that I just inherited a fantastic team from Rick Pitino that had won the title in 1996 and finished 2nd in 1997 and that a lobotomized mannequin could have led that 1998 team to a title, but clearly it was my stellar coaching that got us to the top. So, given how great I am, how could anything be my fault?
TAMVP: Color me convinced,Tubs. I’ll just overlook the fact that you didn’t make another Final Four during your final nine seasons at Kentucky, which just happens to be the worst stretch in the school’s history. On to the next question. Your offense, which one particularly bright writer refers to as the “Statue” offense, seems to be as boring as it is ineffective. How do you respond to these insightful and clearly true observations?
TS: Have you ever heard of a thing called hypnosis? That’s essentially what we try to do with our offense. I figure if all five players stand in one place long enough and only pass the ball around the perimeter in a predictable and maddening fashion, our opponent’s mind will drift away from playing defense and start thinking about something else, like dill pickle chips, which are my favorite. Once the defenders are so bored and/or distracted, it will be easy for one of our guards to fling up an off-balance three pointer just before the shot clock runs out. It really is genius.
TAMVP: Not sure that’s the word I would use to describe it, but my job isn’t to insult you. What do you think about the success of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, who has the highest conference winning percentage of any current coach in the Big Ten, and the fact that he has built his excellent program on the back of Minnesota high school stars such as Jordan Taylor, Jon Leuer, Mike Bruesewitz, and Jared Berggren, kids you either didn’t recruit very hard or not at all? Doesn’t it bother you that these players are part of top Big Ten teams while you have never had a conference record above .500 with your “superior” players?
TS: Those kids certainly are good players, but they just weren’t Gopher material.
TAMVP: What do you mean by “Gopher material”?
TS: Those kids are all heart, they put the team first, and they wouldn’t dream of leaving their school mid-season. That’s not what the Maroon and Gold is all about. I want guys that might decide to walk away from their scholarship at any point, I want players who aren’t afraid to yell at each other during a game, I want players who are so enamored with their own potential that they never actually reach it.
TAMVP: Wow, that’s awful. Well, I must say this is one of the worst interviews I’ve ever been a part of.
TS: Well, I told you what questions to ask but you didn’t ask them. If you would have listened to me this interview would have been the next Wallace/Hussein or Frost/Nixon, but you did it your way and this is what you get. Did I mention I’m a national championship winning coach?
TAMVP: Yes, Tubby, you mentioned that. Thanks for your time, I guess. Good luck the rest of the season and hopefully you win at least one NCAA tournament game, otherwise the University might just “Flip” out on you.