Tubby Smith speaks ... sort of
Hey everyone. Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, one of two men on Auburn's initial list of candidates, on Friday dismissed reports that a jump to the Tigers is imminent.
``That's just talk ... because I'm pleased with what we've accomplished here; I'm pleased with where we are in the program," Smith said after the Golden Gophers' loss to Xavier in the NCAA Tournament. ``I'm looking forward to coming back to Minnesota."
Smith is a Southeastern Conference veteran. He spent 10 seasons at Kentucky, where he won a national title in 1997, and two seasons at University of Georgia.Photo credit: Morry Gash/Associated PressQuestions? Comments?
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All we have are the embers
In this space was a Campfire. Now it has ended. I'm sorry if you missed it.Thanks to those who went the distance ... or almost:
Norm, Peter F., Sean, JustAnotherScottie, Digger, Jet, dwells, SCoats, Emmett, Freep
The case for Tubby Smith
Hey everyone. Hope you're having a great second morning of March Madness.®
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.
Ben Tate speaks
Hey everyone. My interview with Ben Tate, the former Auburn tailback, began according to plan today. We spent 15 minutes or so talkin' shop.
He refused to tell me which teams were working him out privately, which I found a little odd. So it goes. If secrecy yields him an extra $1 million, I support it fully.
I'm no hater ... except when I'm hating.
The full Q & A will run in tomorrow's editions of the Advertiser. Here now is a sneak peek for you HOTTIES.Q: Have you noticed a change in how many people are around you or want to hang out with you now that you'll be an NFL guy?
A: ``Not really. I'm not someone who hangs out with a lot of people. It's just the same group I've had all my life. I'm not the kind of guy who gets to know everybody. I stick with the people I know."Q: You obviously had a great Combine, running a 4.4 and showing plenty of strength. Were you surprised by how well that went?A: ``I was hoping to run a little bit faster, actually. I've had better times. I told my agent that I planned to run again at Pro Day, but that didn't go over too well with him. He told me I didn't need to run it again, that the 4.4 was good enough. I'll just go with the numbers I have, I guess."Q: You've been really hitting the social networks lately, offering autographs and exclusive interviews with fans. Where did that come from?A: ``I had the idea for a while, but my marketing guy and I came up with the stuff we're doing. It's definitely something I want to keep doing -- especially at the next level. I want people to know about me if they care enough to look. I'm not going to be like (Chad) Ochocinco and tweeting every 30 minutes. He does a pretty good job, but that's not me. Do people really care that much?"Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn UniversityQuestions? Comments?
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R.I.P. Larry Bailey aka AUFan365
Hey everyone. I'm sorry to report that one of the HABOTN's most ardent supporters has died.
Larry Bailey, whom many of you all knew as AUFan365, died Sunday after suffering an aneurysm. He was 62. You can read the obit here
I think he attended every chat we held. Larry told me that he didn't say much during the chats because he had difficulty typing, but he was watching. I met him face-to-face at the Outback Bowl. He sat in the HABOTN section with a bunch of you all.
He's currently listed as a "notable newcomer," though he really wasn't a newcomer. He just didn't participate a whole lot for the reasons I described and I didn't promote him. I should have.UPDATE:
AUFan365 has been added to the Ring of Fire in a new subsection, one we hoped never would be created, called "Where Eagles Soar." He will be remembered here every day.
Rest in peace ...
Barkley speaks out
Hey everyone. Your favorite former Auburn player who was an NBA All-Star with the Philadelphia 76ers during the late 1980s and 90s has spoken out about Auburn's coaching search.
Charles Barkley was a guest on WJOX's "The Roundtable" show this afternoon.
Here is what he had to say:
- On Jeff Lebo: ``Jeff is a nice guy, but he didn't win. It's not personal. Every coach is going to get fired at some point. He was there for six years and he didn't win."
- On his recent talk with Jay Jacobs: ``I told him anything he needs me to do, I'll do. There's not a person is basketball I don't know or can't find out about. If he wants me to do a background check on any coach in the country, I can get it done. I can find out the truth. I'm there for him."
- On what Auburn needs: ``We need to bring some excitement into the new building. We can't hide behind the crutch that we don't have a good building anymore … or good practice facilities. You can win at Auburn. Auburn is a good program. We're never going to be North Carolina or Duke, but we've had success and if you put the right coach in there, we can be successful again."
- On if Auburn needs to hire a black coach: ``I've never demanded that they hire a black coach. I said I thought Turner Gill's resume was better than Gene Chizik's. And it was. Gene did a great job. I wish him success. Most people always think the white guy is the best guy for the job. That's why we have no minority coaches in football -- because a majority of the people who run these schools are white. They're always going to hire a while guy. The best candidate? That's b.s. I don't care who Auburn hires. I just want them to hire a good coach.
``Everybody went crazy. I said the exact same thing about Alabama when they hired Mike Shula over Sylvester Croom. Clearly race had a lot to do with that. Mike Shula -- that was the saddest day of my life when he got fired."
- More on the Shula/Croom controversy: ``That was a travesty. I know how the South works down here. We've got a bunch of rednecks down here. It is what it is."
- On his role in the search: ``I don't try to run the Auburn program. If I ran the program, Mike Anderson would have been the coach last time. We need some excitement."
- On his relationship with Jay Jacobs: ``Me and Jay have always been cool. Jay knows -- I'm always going to be myself. I ain't never gonna be no kiss-ass brother. I'm my own man. I'm not one of these Alabama guys who listens to Finebaum and Scarbinsky. I know how this thing works."
- On if candidates have called him: ``I've had 10 guys call. I told them -- I don't pull any strings down at Auburn. I'm not running the program. For some reason, they think I'm going to hire the next coach, which is not true."
Hey everyone. Sorry for the dearth of posts lately, but there are good reasons. It's spring break. That means Auburn players are gone, the coaches are doing their thing as well since Spring Practice starts next week and the basketball search hasn't yet started.
This is the calm before the storm ... if you consider Spring Practice a hurricane of activity. It can be.
- SCHEDULE UPDATE: I'm planning to talk with Ben Tate tomorrow. The goal is to simply check in with him, see what's been happening since Pro Day and how he's holding up. I'm sure these are tough days. He'll be a millionaire soon, but he's still a (semi-)broke college student for another six weeks.
- HOOPS COACHING SEARCH: Athletic director Jay Jacobs had some names in mind for Jeff Lebo replacements before this whole thing went down. He's sniffing around to gauge interest from those guys before getting a search firm involved. Who will be on that list? Chuck Person is on it. Tubby Smith, the former UK figurehead and current Minnesota coach, is on it. I know nothing substantive beyond that. They have not been interviewed and, as far as I know, permission hasn't yet been granted in either case. Since Minnesota backed into the NCAA Tournament, an interview with Smith wouldn't happen for a bit.
Is Smith a real candidate? It doesn't look like a good financial fit. Though his buyout is essentially zero right now, Smith is guaranteed to make at least $1.8 million during each of the next four seasons. When Jacobs said Auburn would offer a competitive salary in an SEC context, I think he means ~$1.3 million. That's much higher than Lebo's $750,000 salary, but it's well short of what Minnesota pays. I don't see Smith accepting a pay cut to take over this program. It's not like he's from Alabama; he grew up in rural Maryland.
Are you wondering about Missouri coach Mike Anderson? He is guarnateed $1.55 million per season through 2016, though a portion of that is withheld each year until 2013 for a deferred compensation fund. It's a way to keep him at Missouri.
Anderson had the opportunity to leave Missouri for Georgia last spring. Reports say he left at least $500,000 on the table to stay with the Tigers, so Auburn's chances don't look very good. That's not even considering what happened when Auburn expressed interest in 2004. Short answer: It didn't end well.
I know you want to discuss more candidates, but I can't identify the actual targets just yet. Jacobs isn't to that stage.
- BASEBALL UPDATE: Auburn was rolling right along until the trip to No. 2 Arizona State last weekend. The team flew home winless in three games, but didn't play poorly overall. Arizona State is really good. The Tigers probably will crush Alabama A&M today and Wednesday before opening conference play at Georgia this weekend.
Is this the Auburn team that finally can qualify for Hoover? Magic 8 Ball says: Cannot predict now.
The Tigers currently are 9-5.