Open thread: Can U of M basketball be fixed?

Several reports, mostly citing CBS sports (update: now confirmed by WCCO’s Mark Rosen), say Tubby Smith has been fired by the University of Minnesota as men’s basketball coach.

The Gophers season went the way many Gopher sports’ (men’s) seasons go: Win enough games early to get people to believe, crash and burn in the Big 10, leave people calling for a coach’s head to distract from their own massive self-loathing for taking the bait again.

Between last week’s first-round NCAA win against UCLA (which got its coach fired) and the last non-cheating tournament win, 23 years elapsed.

Part of the problem — actually the problem is enough good high school basketball players don’t want to go to the University of Minnesota. Why would they?

And college basketball is merely a quick stop now anyway so even if Minnesota were to attract great talent, they would only be here for a year before going to the NBA, where we would continually target them for leaving beloved Minnesota.

The U of M already has the worst graduation rates in the Big 10 for basketball (source).

Basketball Graduation Rates: Big Ten
Illinois 100%
Penn St. 90%
Michigan St. 82%
Northwestern 80%
Nebraska 75%
Iowa 73%
Ohio St. 57%
Purdue 50%
Wisconsin 50%
Indiana 47%
Michigan 45%
Minnesota 43%
Bottom 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Connecticut 25%
Arkansas 25%
Georgia Tech 27%
Mississippi St. 27%
Auburn 29%
Cal 33%
Florida 38%
USC 38%
Tennessee 40%
Arizona 43%
Colorado 43%
Georgia 43%
Minnesota 43%
Temple 43%

This is an open thread. Go ahead, make the argument below to a good basketball player on why they should want to play at the U.

  • Disco

    Umm, I have a good one. Because men’s BB here will likely get a new arena and/or new upscale practice facility, all on the taxpayer and/or tuition-payer’s dime. They said a while back that not having a really nice facility was one reason why they couldn’t recruit top talent.

    Didn’t they say a similar thing about the football program? And now that they’ve got a new stadium, look at all those Rose Bowl trophies.

  • Leah

    It’s certainly not the coach’s fault. The coach can only do so much. It’s the players. And Disco is right, building new facilities won’t attract players either. I rather have a top notch academic school with top notch research than a good basketball team anyway.

  • james wallace

    Not as long as both the print media and broadcast media keep their focus on putting men’s basketball losses ahead of women’s hockey victories in coverage, doing cutesy features on rehabilitation of players, days without jail time etc. They’re all over Tubby – will he keep his job? – and nobody even interviews the coach of the women’s hockey team. Boys and their balls are evidently where it’s at. Everyone seems happy to pay $800,000 to NOT play a game . . . The whole program should be scrapped and replaced with one in which academic eligibility is scrupulously followed, and if you are below par you can’t play. No exceptions. Obama’s new appointment has suggested fines for programs whose “student” athletes fail to graduate. Let’s put an end to the charade: there are students and then there are the paid (yes, it’s pay) gladiators. Decide how much worth to society there is between an entertaining gladiator and a good scientist or doctor. Choices need to be made. $800,000 would buy a lot of academic as opposed to athletic scholarships.

  • Disco

    Oh, I think it’s partly the coach’s fault. But I think it’s a symbiotic death spiral of coaches and players. The players can’t win, so the coach stops caring, then the players stop caring, and pretty soon you have an irrelevant (though still astonishingly well-funded) program for many decades.

  • John O.

    When it comes to cashing checks, the U of M does a masterful job. When it comes to managing their athletic programs, not so much.

  • Lois

    So does Tubby have a contract that allows the U to fire him and not pay him off?

  • Tyler

    Maybe we could all just lower our expectations for U basketball?

  • Josh

    Winning. That is what will get kids to come here. What is so great about Lawrence, KS that makes kids want to play basketball there? A Winning program. Every good basketball player wants to compete every year and have a coach that can get them to the next level of basketball.

  • Jim G

    Able to leap tall snow-drifts is a single bound?

    Faster than a speeding Round-ball?

    Smaller than the tallest, but larger of heart?

    Quick-witted, not just quick?

    Shoot !?

    We can help you be all you can be, here in Minnesota.

  • Marshall Skare

    Of course they can improve. Take the $800000 and hire the ADs from the University of Miami, UNLV, Duke and UNC as consultants on how to more effectively beat NCAA rules. We get better players and better coaches,the school makes more money, the public will be allowed to buy the school a new basketball arena….everybody wins!