It was Orlando "Tubby" Smith's first game on the sidelines of Williams Arena Thursday.
His thoughts on the Barn's raised floor, a true relic from college hoops' formative days: "It is a good environment. I can see why the Barn is so feared (by opponents)."
At times during Thursday's contest, Smith seemed uncomfortable, not knowing exactly how to handle himself. Should he stand, which he began the game? Should he sit on the bench, which is at least a foot below the floor, which he also did? Or should he find a seat and plant himself on the sidelines in front of the Gophers' bench, which Smith eventually settled upon. This revived a tradition first started with Clem Haskins, who used a maroon stool during games.
"I didn't know what to do," Smith admitted afterwards.
Prior to the game, in an unheard of move, Smith went over to the other side of the court, where the handicapped section is located, and personally greeted the fans. He also shook hands with Dave, a longtime event worker, and waved at his wife sitting some rows away.
I have known Dave for several years -- he is one of the few event workers who go out of their way to speak to me. He was thoroughly impressed with Smith.
"It was a wonderful way to start," says Dave, who long after the game started and ended, still was in awe. "It was marvelous."
Yes, Minnesota defeated M State by 26 points in a game that won't count in their season results. It was good that Smith began his first Gopher season on a positive note. But more importantly, he did so much more.
He won over folks like Dave, which can bode him well during the rough times, which there will be some in Gopherland.
"That was class," says Dave. I agree.