Wreck ‘Em Red Exclusive: A 1-on-1 interview with Tubby Smith

Feb 3, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Tubby Smith reacts after the Red Raiders defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys in overtime 63-61 at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Tubby Smith reacts after the Red Raiders defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys in overtime 63-61 at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith has won 557 career games, one national title and has taken five different programs to the NCAA Tournament.  Last week, Wreck ‘Em Red had the opportunity to speak to Coach Smith about his connection to Lubbock and his involvement with a national campaign that has garnered rave reviews.  This is part one of a two-part interview.

WER: Texas Tech fans have really enjoyed the promotional video you made for Dove Men + Care. How did this opportunity come about?

"TS: You know, you’d have to ask the Dove people. But I like to think it’s because of the character of what we represent in the coaching profession and partnering with them about what real strength is. I grew up in a household with 12 brothers and sisters so I think I was sort of, probably a good person to be able to talk about it.Dove products is something I’ve used for a long time, they are a very impressive company so it was a good relationship and a good partnership to be a part of. So this campaign is something I think to which we could add the things we’ve done over the years. I’ve been a coach now for 44 years in high school and college… so I think I could be a good spokesman for all the good things they stand for as well."

WER: Speaking of strength and masculinity, how much of coaching today is being a mentor or even a father figure to young men?

"TS: Well it’s always what has been…when I first got involved or the coaches that coached me and the teacher that I had when I was in elementary school through college, they all had an impact on me and influenced me in a positive way. So when I was offered this opportunity to help celebrate and support what Dove Men + Care is all about it was those bonds that I [remember].Even my first coach, Cecil Short, back at George Washington Carver in 1965-66 we still stay in touch. So I know the relationship and I know what its meant to me, how they mentored me and inspired me and motivated me to be a teacher and be a coach."

WER: Let’s talk about what you have accomplished at Texas Tech. When you were considering taking the job at Texas Tech, what was it about the university and the community of Lubbock that convinced you that you could be successful here despite the fact that the basketball team had fallen on such hard times?

"TS: Well, as you know I was let go at Minnesota and we felt like we had destroyed that program because it was having a tough time. (Sarcasm implied: Smith was fired in 2013 despite taking Minnesota to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.) I think I’ve developed a reputation in the business of someone who is going to be a key player on every staff and at every university I’ve been a guy here to serve.And we saw an opportunity in the Big 12, it was an opportunity and Kirby Hocutt the athletic director along with Chancellor (Kent) Hance at the time, they called me up. It was the day after I was [let go at Minnesota and they asked me] where I was and what I would do and when I would do it, if I was staying in the coaching profession and if I was taking time away from it.So I really wasn’t that aware of Texas Tech and the tough times they had had until I had that call. You know, I had that call and at that time, I’m a little bit emotional. You know, when you’ve been in the business as long as I have and done things the right way you wonder, you hope you’re doing things the right way. I’d been to Lubbock a few times recruiting junior colleges so I was well aware of Lubbock but I never lived here.Now I have a chance to be a part of it and the direction they wanted to go was, um, I knew it would be a challenge but again, we’d had a lot of practice in turning things around."

WER: We are certainly thankful that Minnesota made the decision they did. Now that you are a Lubbock resident, what are some of the aspects of the community you have come to appreciate?

"TS: Well, getting back to the campaign, one of the things that Dove Men + Care cares about is celebrating the relationships and friendships and that’s what I’ve found living here in the community of Lubbock.My neighbors are former athletes and supporters of Red Raider athletics so whenever you go to a community or live somewhere, you want to make it a better place and that’s what I think when I look at, you know, getting back to this question of Why Lubbock? A lot of my friends asked the same question: Lubbock, Texas?But now that I’m here, I can appreciate the West Texas hospitality. That’s been my life. I’ve been a part of a family. My dad and my mom taught us about sharing and caring for others and the Dove Men + Care and this campaign is about caring. So it was a good match, a good fit, and so was Lubbock.You know, I did have to take chances in life. I tell our players not to be afraid to try different things and you really don’t know until you take a job or make a move and then you have to make it better. That’s what my dad said. “Make a decision son and then make it better.”It may not be the best decision at the time but you’ve got to make it better and because I’m here, you invest your life and your time and so that’s what, again going back to why be part of the Dove Men + Care it;s what Lubbock and West Texas hospitality is all about."

Next: Defining Moment No. 2: Texas Tech beats Texas 82-74

Check in with Wreck ‘Em Red tomorrow as we post part two of our one-on-one interview with Texas Tech head basketball Tubby Smith. In part two he talks about the turning point of this past season and reveals a special moment that happened in the Texas Tech locker room following the Red Raiders’ loss to Butler in the NCAA Tournament.