April 1, 2013 – Kirby Hocutt hires Tubby Smith as mens’ basketball coach
After interim head coach Chris Walker led Texas Tech through the 2012-13 basketball season in the wake of Billie Gillespie’s sudden resignation, Kirby Hocutt had another critical hire to make in the spring of 2013. The Texas Tech AD had to find someone capable of resurrecting the dormant Texas Tech basketball program before it fell into even further disarray.
Fortunately for Hocutt, a hall of fame coach landed in his lap. After taking the Minnesota Gophers to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Orlando “Tubby” Smith was fired by the university, which chose to hire a young up and coming Richard Pitino.
One day later, Kirby Hocutt was on the phone with Smith to gage his interest in coaching Texas Tech. Smith was hired and spent three years in Lubbock. After struggling with a young roster in his first two seasons, Smith finally got the basketball program back on its feet in 2015-16.
The man with 557 career wins and a national title to his name took the Red Raiders to the NCAA Tournament and a 7th place finish in the Big 12 despite being picked to finish last in the pre-season coaches’ poll.
As most know by now, Smith left abruptly this past week to take the job at Memphis but despite the sour taste left in the collective mouth of Texas Tech fans, Kirby Hocutt made a fantastic hire in Tubby Smith.
Bucking the national trend of hiring coaches that are just starting to build a reputation in the game, Hocutt gave a legend an opportunity and was rewarded with the resurrection of the program. Though he left town with a 46-50 record, the 2015-16 Big 12 Coach of the Year was just what the program needed at the time and he brought basketball back to life in Lubbock.
Despite how Smith’s time in Lubbock ended, Hocutt deserves tons of credit for hiring Smith in the first place.
Next: Hocutt becomes chairman of CFP