Tubby Smith responds to firing as head coach of Tiger’s men’s basketball team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tubby's out and hometown sports hero Penny Hardaway could be in.

The University of Memphis Tigers basketball coach was relieved of his duties Wednesday, and he responded that same day.

As news spread that the coach best known for winning a national title at Kentucky was out, fans had mixed feelings.

"We just had an up and down season. I don't know why they fired Tubby so early, he's a legendary coach," Tiger fan, Anthony Baldwin said.

But after two seasons, despite Tubby's winning reputation with other programs, Tubby was let go and most fans don't seem to mind.

"I think he needs to go. He hasn't done so well. I know he said he needed a certain amount of time to build the program, but we need our basketball team back," Tiger fan Joe Musara said.

For some fans, time is up.

They complain Tubby has had trouble recruiting locally and bringing big crowds.

Tubby Smith released a statement saying, "I appreciate the opportunity to have led the University of Memphis basketball program for the last two years. I'm proud of the work my staff and I have done to serve the players, the school and the community in leading us to a 21-13 season this year."

He goes on to say, "After 39 years in college coaching, I know that change happens, and I wish the University and the team the best as they pursue a different direction. As a lifelong competitor I believe the game never ends, and I'll be exploring my next move on and off the court in the coming weeks."

WREG stopped by Tubby's home to see if he had more to say after tweeting that he was out as coach of the Tigers men's basketball team.

What's next?

That's easy. It's Penny Hardaway, probably.

Not that the East High School basketball coach had much to say after his team's state tournament win.

"I can't because I'm with East right now, and I really want to focus on East right now. I haven't had any talks with any of them," Hardaway said.

Despite the chatter, Hardaway says he's all about East High School right now and hasn't talked to anyone at the University of Memphis about the gig.

That hasn't stopped fans from keeping their fingers crossed.

"I miss the days of Cal. Hopefully we get Hardaway. That would be good for the University and the city of Memphis," a Tiger fan said.