Tubby Smith's Lawyer Says Coach Has Positive Reviews Amid Firing Rumors

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2018

Memphis head coach Tubby Smith reacts in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Wichita State on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

University of Memphis men's basketball coach Tubby Smith has received nothing but positive feedback from school administrators if his lawyer is to be believed.

"What Tubby has gotten consistently from that administration is 'Coach, we know you're doing this the right way, we know this is a process, we know this is gonna take some time, we're happy with what you're doing,'" Ricky Lefft said, per Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com. "Tubby told them from the beginning it was a four- to five-year process. When he says it's a process, that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone."

The comments come after Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported Memphis was "seriously considering replacing Tubby Smith with Penny Hardaway."

Medcalf noted "scrutiny" on Smith has "intensified" this season after K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson left the program following a 19-13 showing in 2016-17 and after attendance dropped. He also pointed out Memphis would owe Smith $10 million if it fires him following two seasons if it doesn't have cause.

Before becoming the head coach of the Tigers, Smith coached at Tulsa, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas Tech and, most notably, Kentucky. He made the NCAA tournament all 10 seasons with the Wildcats and won a national title, seven regular-season SEC titles and five SEC tournament championships during the span.

However, he has not been able to replicate that success in the early going with Memphis, and university president M. David Rudd said, "We're going to evaluate the program at the end of the year," per Mark Giannotto of the Commercial Appeal.

As for Hardaway, Parrish cited a source who said the former NBA and Memphis player sees Hall of Famer Larry Brown as a potential candidate to join his staff.

Parrish also pointed out Hardaway has connections to three highly regarded recruits in the 2019 class—James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries and Chandler Lawson—because he runs the Team Penny Nike EYBL program and is the coach for East High in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Tigers' 2017-18 season is still alive after they beat South Florida in the American Athletic Conference tournament Thursday and moved to 20-12 overall despite losing leading scorer Jeremiah Martin to a broken foot.

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