Tubby Smith is building the University of Minnesota into a respectable basketball school. Will he win a national title with the Goph's someday? Maybe (not), but stranger things have happened. But that's not what this is about. This is about how you build a program that stands tall year after year.
John Calipari does it by skirting the rules and attracting players that will never graduate and will leave after one season for the NBA.
Thad Matta does with high ceiling players as well, but he follows the rules. His offensive system allows the stars to shine.
Mike Krzyzewski does by getting the most out of his players, whether they are talented freshman or fifth year seniors.
Bo Ryan does it by bringing in players that he deems coachable. Players that are good, but flourish in his swing offense. He also doesn't abide for trouble makers.
What about Tubby Smith? He started with coaching, taking less than talented Gopher teams further than anyone thought they could go. This year he brought in some big time recruits, but there is a problem. Some of those recruits have gotten into trouble, and that's what this is about.
How a Coach deals with troubled talent reveals much about a program. Is it win it all costs? Even the integrity of the school? Or do you win with integrity and build a team that doesn't cost you the respect of the community?
Look at the case of two recruits, Diamond Taylor of Wisconsin and Royce White of Minnesota.
Taylor was arrested after drinking and going into unlocked dorm rooms and stealing several ipods and cell phones. He was suspended indefinitely from the Men's basketball program and once it became clear that he was not welcome back to the team, he was released from his scholarship. He ended up withdrawing from school and enrolling at Southern Illinois to play basketball (if you've ever wondered how mid-majors get talented players, that's one way).
Taylor was, by most accounts, a high character player. Bo wouldn't have recruited him had he had a history of bad decisions and off the court trouble. Even so, he made a mistake and the school moved on without him.
The highlight of the Gophers 2009 recruiting class, Royce White was arrested for stealing over $100 worth of merchandise from Macy's in the Mall of America and assaulting the security guard who stopped him. He was suspended indefinitely and has since pleaded guilty. He's also being investigated in the theft of a lap top on campus.
White has a history, he was expelled from school as a senior for cheating on a test and, as the story goes, when caught by the teacher he took offense, shoved the teacher and said "I'm fucking Royce White." Apparently he's a big deal.
No final decision has been made on White's future at the U of M, but looking at the early response by the Gophers it would seem his indefinite suspension will go only slightly longer than his legal troubles. It would not be a surprise to see him in the Maroon and Gold by the end of the season.
The Gophers program is not lacking for suspensions in 2009 either. White was the third player suspended by the team, the first being Senior Guard Devron Bostick (7 games for unspecified violation of team rules) and the other is Trevor Mbakwe (suspended indefinitely with pending assault charges in Miami).
In college sports there's more to the game than winning. Most of these athletes will never be playing professionally, so education comes first. Lowering your standards to win more games is never an acceptable choice to make and it's one that Tubby Smith seems to be making.
You can win while being a credible university; Bob Knight graduated nearly 100 percent of his student athletes, Bo Ryan graduates over %80 of the athletes that come to his program. If Royce White plays for Minnesota, do you think his mind is set on a degree?
Tubby Smith is certainly a good enough coach to succeed without the headache players, but it's his decision to make. Win 20 games with integrity or win 23 with charges pending. Whatever choice is made - it's Tubby's call.
Bo Ryan has the right idea. If you don't want to take advantage of the opportunity a school has given you there are plenty other kids that deserve that chance.