Long considered "the man who builds college basketball programs," Billy Tubbs has done just that in redirecting the TCU basketball program over the past seven seasons following his hiring as the Horned Frogs' head coach on April 9, 1994.
Indeed, even a passing look at the state of TCU basketball reveals the obvious: Horned Frog basketball has undergone a remarkable transformation during Tubbs' seven years at the helm.
A veteran coach who has excelled at every level of coaching, Tubbs continues to make history at TCU. His 2000-2001 team compiled yet another winning season. And Tubbs continued his inexorable march toward a place among the all-time coaching greats as he led TCU to a school-record seventh straight winning season.
The success Tubbs has enjoyed at TCU, while a benchmark performance at most schools, has simply stoked the competitive fires of the fiery Tubbs. Tubbs' goal remains making TCU a national force in college basketball. And his high-scoring Horned Frogs, who have won 83.2 percent (94-19) of their home games under Tubbs' tutelage, appear primed to be led to even greater success by one of college basketball's winningest coaches.
The level of excellence demanded by this perfectionist from Oklahoma has raised the bar of expectations at TCU. While his most recent Horned Frog squads added luster to his already sparkling coaching record, it was his 1997-98 squad that will go down as one of, if not, the best team to ever take the court at TCU. A team which shattered school and conference records as if they were delicate china. Believing in their coach's theory that records are simply made to be broken. Waltzing through one of the nation's toughest conference races. Garnering national media attention and then, rather than sitting back and reading the press clippings, going out and writing another chapter in what amounts to a tremendous story. And lastly, earning the school its first NCAA appearance in eleven seasons. Oh yes, Tubbs also earned his 500th career victory.
The previous campaign, 1996-97, was TCU's first in the Western Athletic Conference. That season saw Tubbs guide the Horned Frogs to a 22-win season, the championship game of the WAC Tournament, and victories over several nationally-ranked opponents.
Tubbs began working his magic from the moment he first set foot on the Fort Worth campus. During his first season at TCU, Tubbs led a team that had won just 13 games over the previous two seasons to a pair of record-breaking campaigns - one which saw the Horned Frogs contend for the Southwest Conference title, lead the NCAA in scoring offense, break numerous school records, feature the nation's individual scoring and rebounding leader, the SWC's Player and Newcomer of the Year, and Tubbs being rewarded as the Consensus Southwest Conference Coach of the Year.
He backed that up with a second-consecutive upper-division finish during the 1995-96 campaign and produced one of the nation's top freshmen as well as the SWC's Newcomer/Freshman of the Year.
These are just the most recent examples of what Billy Tubbs has accomplished throughout his 27-year head coaching career, having fashioned an absolutely amazing won-lost record during his stints at Southwestern (Texas), Lamar, Oklahoma and TCU.
He ranks 12th among the NCAA's all-time winningest active coaches, having compiled an overall head coaching record of 579 victories, 282 defeats and a winning percentage of 67.2 percent. Entering the 2001-2002 season, he needs only 21 wins to become the 36th coach in NCAA history to win at least 600 games.
"I still have a burning desire to sometime walk off the floor at the end of the season as the national champion," Tubbs says. "I'm not interested in middle-of-the pack mediocrity; TCU has thoroughly convinced me with the commitment, that TCU wants that kind of winning program."
But, his arrival at Frogland certainly isn't the first uphill battle Tubbs' has fought.
Tubbs took what at that time was an unknown Lamar team to the NCAA Tournament twice, advancing to the "Sweet 16" in their second trip.
Tubbs proved that you could take a dormant basketball program, located in the heart of football country, and mold it into a national power, as well as a feature entertainment attraction.
Tubbs demonstrated, rather graphically, to the `walk-it-up-the-court and win with 60 points' Big Eight Conference that the up-tempo, transitional game affectionately referred to as "Billyball" was the style of the future. Soon, Tubbs' brand of basketball was being played on courts across the country.
Tubbs demonstrated that, despite recruiting classes lacking high school all-Americans, nor having a legitimate post player, and by using a somewhat visionary approach, he could coach - and out-coach -- the best of them. Tubbs has shown that he can not only win, but that he can win big... his way.
But none of these challenges matched the one in which he fought for his own life, bounced back, and one year later was laughing with fans donned in tire tread T-shirts.
But that's the way Tubbs is. Accept the challenge with enthusiasm and determination. Fight the battle with all you have, and win. That certainly describes what Tubbs has done throughout his coaching career.
Following stints as an assistant coach at Lamar and North Texas, as well as two seasons as head coach at Southwestern (Texas) University, Tubbs literally hit the big time when he took over as head coach at Lamar in 1976-77.
In his four seasons in Beaumont, Tubbs' Cardinals jumped out of the shadows and into the national spotlight. After an initial 12-17 season, Tubbs led Lamar to three consecutive winning seasons, posting a composite 75-46 record and earning back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids (the 1979-80 squad advanced to the "Sweet 16"). His Cardinal ballclubs won three straight Southland Conference titles, and Tubbs was named SLC Coach of the Year following both the 1978 and 1980 campaigns. In each of his final two seasons at Lamar, he was honored as Coach of the Year by the Texas Basketball Coaches Association.
From Lamar, Tubbs moved north of the Red River to undertake the rebuilding process at the University of Oklahoma.
Over the next 14 years, Tubbs would guide Oklahoma to 13 straight winning seasons en route to a composite record of 333 wins against just 133 losses (a winning percentage of .715). Sandwiched between his inaugural season with the Sooners (won 9, lost 18) in 1980-81 and the 1993-94 campaign (won 15, lost 14) were a dozen seasons of 20 or more victories and three-consecutive Big Eight Conference postseason tournament titles.
Upon his arrival in Norman prior to the 1980-81 campaign, Tubbs took over a program that had registered 20-win seasons just twice in its 73-year history and had been invited to just six postseason tournaments. Tubbs' Sooner ballclubs eclipsed those totals in just seven years.
His first year at Oklahoma resulted in a 9-18 mark, yet set the groundwork for what was to follow. In just his second season at OU, he guided the Sooners to an eye-opening 22-11 record and a berth in the Final Four of the National Invitational Tournament in New York City. Billyball had arrived in Norman!
The Sooners squad cracked the Top 20 in 1983, as Tubbs guided them to a then-school record tying 24 victories and the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.
One year later, he was named National Coach of the Year by Basketball Weekly, as well as Big Eight Coach of the Year in leading Oklahoma to just its second Big Eight title in 26 seasons as the Sooners posted a 29-5 won-lost mark.
The 1984-85 season witnessed Tubbs earning Big Eight Coach of the Year accolades as his Sooners set new conference marks en route to notching 31 wins to advance toward another Big Eight title and the NCAA Midwest Regionals.
In 1985-86 (26-9) and 1986-87 (24-10), Tubbs' squads earned two more NCAA Tournament bids as well as posting identical 11th-place national rankings along with their sixth consecutive 20-win season.
There was more to come.
Tubbs guided his 1987-88 team, the second highest scoring team in NCAA history (102.9 ppg.), to the National Championship game in Kansas City, Mo., before the Danny Manning-led Kansas Jayhawks left OU just four points shy of the national title. All told, Tubbs' squad broke 54 conference and six NCAA records.
The 1988-89 season saw Tubbs record yet another 30-win season, this time resulting in a midyear No. 1 ranking, the first-ever for the Sooners, as well as a second-straight Big Eight Tournament Championship.
The following year, Tubbs led Oklahoma to back-to-back defeats of the nation's then-top-ranked teams, its third consecutive Big Eight Tournament Championship, and a final season No. 1 ranking.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., and raised in Tulsa, Okla., Tubbs graduated from Tulsa Central High School as a three-year basketball letterman. He then journeyed to Lon Morris College, where he led the Bearcats to the National Junior College semifinals.
He then earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education at Lamar, where he also earned two basketball monograms. Tubbs completed his studies by earning a Master of Education degree from Stephen F. Austin State.
An avid jogger and golfer, he recorded a hole-in-one in July 1995. The president and CEO of B.T. Inc., Tubbs is a supporter of charitable causes and has served as chairman of numerous organizations, including the Cleveland County (Okla.) American Cancer Society, Fun-Run Scholarship and America's Love Run for Muscular Dystrophy. He and his wife, the former Pat Ousley, served consecutive terms as Chairpersons for the Oklahoma American Cancer Society.
Billy and Pat Tubbs have two children, Tommy, who played two seasons at point guard for his dad at Oklahoma (1983-84 and 1984-85) and Taylor, a former head Pom Pon for the Sooner cagers. Tommy and his wife, Ann, are the parents of two daughters, Hannah Marie and Katie. Taylor, a counselor in Moore, Okla., and her husband, former Sooner split end Carl Cabbiness, are the parents of a daughter, Callie, and two sons, Trey and Cale.