On the eve of a recruiting visit by a prospect that most Cat fans want and at a time when there are smoldering negative emotions towards the UK basketball team, Mitch Barnhart yesterday bizarrely took a shot at Tubby Smith. He said, “We need to get back to where we belong in basketball, back to Final Fours,” Barnhart said. “Tubby has not forgotten basketball. He’s still one of the preeminent coaches in the country. At the same time, when people are talking basketball, Kentucky needs to be at the forefront of that conversation. Some people may think that, ‘We’re Kentucky, we don’t need to do those things for exposure.’ But we do need to be more active.”
When Mitch refers to “some people,” it is not overtly clear who he is talking about. But since he is the head of the athletic department, you would not think it would be the public relations department….since it does little good to call them out publically. Thus it would seem that it would have to be Tubby Smith…..who it seems is being told, “you dont do enough to promote Kentucky basketball.” Now its not clear if this is aimed at his recruiting or media relations, but it is bizarre.
Barnhart has always been a “no holds barred” kind of guy, but calling out your somewhat embattled coach at this time seems to me to be an odd move. It will be interesting in the weeks ahead to see if there are any ramifications from this stance. It continues to be evidence however that there may come a point very soon where Tubby says something to the effect of “I dont need this crap anymore” and says sayonara. And if that happens, and Kentucky has an NC State type search (which is ENTIRELY possible), comments like this should be remembered.