Tubby Smith is “close” to agreeing to become the next head coach of the Auburn Tigers, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported early Friday morning.
Smith’s name has surfaced in connection with a handful of openings across the country in recent days. He led the Minnesota Gophers to a run in the Big Ten Tournament that earned the school a second-straight NCAA bid.
No. 11 Minnesota takes on No. 6 in Milwaukee in a matter of moments. It will be interesting to see if Smith’s situation is addressed during the broadcast on CBS.
Dodd’s timing is quite curious to say the least, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is just trying to start a wild rumor.
Smith has certainly improved the Minnesota program, but hasn’t had a whole lot of success in recruiting aside from landing highly-touted Royce White, who has since been dismissed from the team. The Gophers lose several key players after this season, likely sending the program into rebuilding mode.
Meanwhile, Auburn is opening a new arena next season and would allow Tubby to return to a conference he certainly is familiar with.
It could come down to money.
Smith makes over $2 million per season in Minnesota. Auburn could perhaps match that number, but probably not exceed it. Oregon, which has been mentioned as another possible destination for Smith, could probably pay more given the school’s creepy connection to Nike.
Or it could simply come down to comfort.
Smith knows the SEC and is certainly comfortable recruiting in the southern part of the country. The SEC West could be flat-out awful next season, allowing for a fairly quick turnaround. The new arena will generate fan interest and support. Even if Smith takes a pay cut to bolt for Auburn, it’s still a pretty good deal.
More on this story as it develops.