The case for Tubby Smith
Let's have a little talk.
Tubby Smith's name is being discussed this morning. Logic tells me it can't happen. My telephone line says something different. To recount: Smith makes approximately $1.8 million at Minnesota right now and he has guaranteed escalators that will push his compensation to $2 million and a little beyond.
Jeff Lebo made approximately $750,000 last year.
Athletic director Jay Jacobs said last week that he was going to pay the next coach a "competitive" salary within a Southeastern Conference context. That's not breaking news.
Here's what the currently employed SEC coaches make:
- John Calipari (UK) -- $3.9 million
- William "Billy" Donovan (Florida) -- $3.5 million
- Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) -- $2.4 million
- Anthony Grant (Alabama) -- $1.8 million
- Mark Fox (Georgia) -- $1.3 million
- Trent Johnson (LSU) -- $1.2 million
- Rick Stansbury (MSU) -- $1.2 million
- Darrin Horn (S. Carolina) -- $1.1 million
- Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt) -- approximately $1 million
- Andy Kennedy (Mississippi) $800,000
- John Pelphrey (Arkansas) $795,000
Trent Johnson is the median at $1.2 million. Jacobs, though, believes that Auburn athletics should be a highly competitive enterprise everywhere. He really wants to see the basketball program thrive. There's a temptation at Auburn to supplement the football program to such an extreme degree that other sports seem excised from the whole deal.
Jacobs doesn't want it that way. This will be his first chance to promote that image in a way fans/supporters/donors care about and see.
Does that mean Tubby Smith is going to be the next Auburn coach? I told you all that two names were on that first list -- Chuck Person and Tubby Smith. If Jacobs can find a way to pay Smith something in the neighborhood of $2 million, it could happen.
Alabama is paying its coach $1.8 million. Anthony Grant is a coach I like, but Tubby Smith is a more viable commodity. He's worth $2 million or more.
Logic tells me no. Logic tells me Auburn wouldn't pay that much for someone who doesn't coach in the Iron Bowl.
Still, I've been warned to avoid applying too much logic at this stage.
EXTRA POINT: According to this story that ran in Thursday's editions of the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer-Press, Minnesota is in the midst of a salary freeze and cannot increase Smith's compensation. If Auburn makes a sugary-sweet offer, Minnesota will be severely limited in its ability to develop a counteroffer.
NOTE: Smith's Golden Gophers play Xavier in the NCAA Tournament beginning at 11:35 a.m. CST.