MINNEAPOLIS Tubby Smith was hailed as a rescuer when he came to Minnesota from Kentucky in 2007, a championship-certified coach who would restore a once-proud program to respectability after it was brought down by an academic fraud scandal.
Smith accomplished much of what he was brought in to do, bringing the Golden Gophers back to the NCAA Tournament three times, keeping Minnesota free of NCAA violations for six years and bringing some energy back to Williams Arena.
When new athletic director Norwood Teague saw the progress stagnate, he decided it was time for a change. Smith was fired on Monday, one day after the Gophers lost to Florida in the NCAA Tournament.
Smith was 124-81 (.605) in six seasons at Minnesota, winning 20 games five times and bringing the first NCAA Tournament victory since 1997 when the 11th-seeded Gophers beat UCLA last week.
But he went just 46-62 (.426) in Big Ten play and never finished higher than sixth in the conference.
Teague came to Minnesota from Virginia Commonwealth, and it has been speculated almost since his arrival that he would eventually bring Shaka Smart with him. But Smart may have higher-profile suitors waiting for him as well with openings already at UCLA and USC.
Other names that could come up are former Minnesota Timberwolves coach and Golden Gophers alumnus Flip Saunders, Villanova's Jay Wright and Marquette's Buzz Williams.
Big Ten The Big Ten Conference has four teams still in the NCAA Tournament. It is the conference's best showing through the round of 32. And, it could get even better.
An All-Big Ten Final Four is possible because top-seeded Indiana, second-seeded Ohio State, third-seeded Michigan State and fourth-seeded Michigan will compete this week in different regions.
Ratings The NCAA Tournament's first week earned its highest television rating in 15 years.
The broadcasts on CBC, TBS, TNT and truTV averaged a 5.8 household rating and 12 share, the highest rating for the tournament's first week since 1998. That year, the rating was 5.9 and 15 share.
The networks say that's up 27 percent from last year's 5.6 and 11.
Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned to a program. Shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.