REPORT: Tubby Smith in the mix
LSU basketball coaching search adds new name
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
It appears the mystery man might have been identified after all.
In a report I prepared for this morning (see below), I gave an updated short list for the LSU men’s basketball coaching vacancy that listed Candidate X, a new emerging candidate who BBI’s Derek Ponamsky learned of last night, atop the docket with North Texas’ Johnny Jones, Oral Roberts’ Scott Sutton and Lehigh’s Dr. Brett Reed following.
Now it seems highly likely that Candidate X is Orlando “Tubby” Smith, the 60-year-old head coach at the University of Minnesota who also has head coaching stops on his resume at Tulsa (1991-95), Georgia (1995-97) and Kentucky (1997-2007), where Smith won a national title in 1998.
Ponamsky first reported news about Smith Friday morning.
When I followed up with a high-ranking LSU official familiar with the coaching search, I was told “cannot comment at this time.”
That certainly does not constitute confirmation, but, considering these types of sources typically advise us when we’re off-based, the comment could be considered tantamount to an admission.
More on this latest development as it rolls in.
REPORT PREVIOUSLY PREPARED FOR THIS MORNING
It was a week ago today that Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports reported Trent Johnson was the primary target for the TCU head coaching vacancy.
Now, seven days removed, LSU is still efforting to fill its own vacancy, one made official by the university on Easter Sunday afternoon when it announced Johnson, who was destined to take over the Horned Frogs’ program, had resigned his post in Baton Rouge.
During the time in between, many potential candidates for the LSU job have been floated out by reporters and talking heads on the Web, radio and television.
LSU, on its end, has confirmed only one official interview — with North Texas coach Johnny Jones in Dallas on Tuesday. Program officials have had nothing but flattering things to say about Jones, who played for and served as an assistant coach for the Tigers in the eighties and nineties.
There have also been rumors that LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva met with interested parties in Atlanta and Virginia on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Yet precious few on-the-record, confirmed nuggets have come out regarding these meetings.
At this juncture, all we really can do is cross names off the list.
Various sources familiar with the coaching search have confirmed to Tiger Rag that Virginia coach Tony Bennett, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, Murray State coach Steve Prohm and former New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus are no longer candidates for the position.
Whether it be from lack of interest on LSU’s end or these coaches preferring to stay put where they are, we can axe them from any future lists.
It also seems likely, unless things have changed from information I received in the last 24 hours, that Memphis coach Josh Pastner and Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall are both off the Tigers’ radar moving forward.
As for the names on the list, there are three we know for sure — Jones, Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton and Lehigh coach Dr. Brett Reed.
And, as Derek Ponamsky of BayouBengalsInsider.com reported last night, LSU appears to have one ace-in-the-hole type who nobody is mentioning at the moment. Considering that fly in the ointment, as Tim Brando would say, here is where that seemingly leaves the updated list (in order of likelihood).
1. Candidate X
2. Johnny Jones
3. Scott Sutton
4. Dr. Brett Reed
Between now and the time the hire is announced, which a source very close to the situation said would ideally be by the end of the weekend, everyone will be trying to figure out who Candidate X is.
Editor Ben Love is Tiger Rag’s lead reporter on LSU men’s basketball. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.