Darren Wolfson, a reporter with ESPN 1500 and the ABC television affiliate WKSTP in the Twin Cities, joined us for an interview to discuss the Tubby Smith angle from the Minnesota perspective. Smith has emerged as a strong player for the basketball job at USC.
Smith worked as an assistant at USC under George Felton in the late 80s and his agent is also a professor at USC, so there is a link. Plus there are indications Smith may be unhappy about some things at Minnesota.
During our interview Wolfson said Smith was due a contract extension at Minnesota prior to this season. Of course, that didn’t happen. Now the school is in the process of hiring a new athletic director so a new deal is on hold. He has just two years left on his contract. Smith was also told he would have a new practice facility in place by this point in his tenure, something that also hasn’t happened.
These are two items that don’t sit well with Smith.
“I don’t think Tubby is the happiest guy in the world,” Wolfson said.
All that being said, Wolfson indicated Smith is making around 1.9 million dollars per season. Also, maybe more importantly, is his buyout, which is two million dollars until May 1st. After that date it drops to 1.5 million.
That means if USC wants to hire Smith, they are going to have to pay a pretty steep price.
Wolfson’s hunch is Tubby is going to stay put, but he isn’t surprised his name is being linked to the USC job.
“He will listen. He has the natural ties to the South, he’s got the SEC experience. Who knows what his attorney is telling him. If you put a gun to my head…my guess is he ends up staying at Minnesota.”
UPDATE: After obtaining a copy of Smith’s contract we discovered the two million dollars is only owed by Minnesota to Smith if the school fired him. If Smith leaves on his own, he owes them nothing. So Smith actually has a zero buyout.
Take a listen to the entire interview below.
AUDIO: ESPN 1500 and ABC TV reporter Darren Wolfson on Tubby Smith[10:03]