|TUBBY SMITH Final Four drought at Kentucky|
With Kentucky fans dogging him after another disappointing finish, Tubby Smith is bolting the bluegrass for Minnesota.
Smith will be introduced as the 16th coach of the Golden Gophers at a noon press conference today, ending a 10-year tenure in Lexington that seemed to be nearing an end even before Minnesota contacted him.
The Wildcats went 22-12 this season and made it to the NCAA Tournament, but lost to top-seeded Kansas in the second round, turning up the heat on the coach of college basketball's winningest program.
Smith led Kentucky to the national championship in his first season in 1998, but the Wildcats haven't been back to the Final Four since, their longest drought since the NCAA Tournament began, and the team lost 10 or more games in a season five times under his watch.
"On behalf of the University of Kentucky, I'd like to express sincere appreciation to Tubby Smith, his family, and his staff," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. "We wish him the very best at the University of Minnesota. They are getting a solid coach and a great person."
Minnesota was 9-22 this season, the most losses in the 111-year history of the program, and averaged just 60.6 points a game, its fewest in 56 years. Former coach Dan Monson was forced to resign seven games into this season with a 118-106 record in eight seasons.
Barnhart's short list of candidates could include some of college basketball's biggest names, including Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Florida's Billy Donovan. Another possible candidate, Memphis's John Calipari, quieted any talk of moving on. "I'm coaching where I am," he said. "I've been here seven years, and I was [supposed to be] leaving every year. I'm worried about right now coaching this team."