Memphis played its final home game of the season on Sunday, and while the Tigers' 2018 campaign is still ongoing, head coach Tubby Smith was asked afterward about his outlook for 2019 considering every player on the roster is slated to come back.
This led to a meditation on the so-called transfer epidemic in college basketball and the culture that has allowed such a situation to foster.
"We're teaching them how to quit. That's what we're doing," Smith said. "Things not going well? Let's quit."
Smith then recalled a story from his own college experience at High Point nearly 50 years ago. Smith said his dad told him that his childhood bed was taken, so his options were to stick it out at High Point or join the Army. (Remember, this was the height of the Vietnam War era.) "Best thing he ever said to me," Smith said.
It's an identical point that North Carolina point guard Joel Berry II made last week, though from an entirely different perspective.
Tubby Smith had a must-listen rant on college basketball today, citing 800+ transfers last year.
"We're teaching them how to quit."
— Clayton Collier (@Local24Clayton) March 4, 2018
There's something to be said that in the days of college coaches freely leaving from one school to another amid 6- and 7-figure paydays, it's not a good look for those same millionaires or near-millionaires to stand against players exercising a similar level of control over their own careers.
But the data suggests that, on the whole, it's better for players to remain at their original schools. And it's interesting given all the differences in Berry's and Smith's stories -- Berry was 45 years after Smith, at a more prestigious school, and didn't presumably have to choose between sticking it out or going to war -- they end at the same point. It was the coaches that convinced Joel Berry II or a young Tubby Smith to stay. It was their parents.