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Texas basketball's job opening creates exciting time for Big 12, Kansas

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Texas head coach Rick Barnes watches from the bench with his team with little time remaining on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas head coach Rick Barnes watches from the bench with his team with little time remaining on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Saturday afternoon news broke that the Texas Longhorns were prepared to move on from men's basketball coach Rick Barnes after 17 seasons.

Regardless of whether it goes down as a firing, a resignation or a force-out, the mere fact that Barnes is moving on and the UT job is open ushers in a wildly exciting time for the Big 12 Conference.

That job, because of a talented returning roster, UT's relatively solid history of success and the resources and money available to turn that program into a force, will attract some of the best candidates in college basketball.

We're not just talking about guys who are looking to make a nice little jump. We're talking about guys who would be candidates at some of the country's best basketball schools if those jobs were open.

Kansas. North Carolina. Duke. Michigan State. Shaka Smart. Gregg Marshall. Ben Jacobson. Archie Miller. And more.

But forget about the candidate pool, which guys have a real shot and what direction the Longhorns want to go. That, right now, is anybody's guess and all those of us observing from afar have to go off of is the recent hiring of Charlie Strong as UT's football coach. Given that the hoops job is a completely different animal, I'm not sure that helps lead us to any quality predictions.

What we can predict, though, is how much the hire — whoever it ends up being — will impact the Big 12 and Kansas.

Let's say, for a second, that Marshall is the guy. Just like that, KU coach Bill Self will go from not knowing when he'll get another crack at Marshall, whose Wichita State team ended Self and KU's season a week ago in Omaha, to two guaranteed match-ups with the guy year in and year out.

That's an awesome scenario to envision. And could immediately breathe life back into the KU-Texas battles and make it the marquee rivalry in the conference.

If it's not Marshall and the Longhorns go with a guy like Smart, you're looking at a scary situation in which a sleeping giant could be awoken.

Smart is so beloved by his players, would be able to recruit top-tier talent to Austin and, beyond that, would bring a nasty style of play to the conference that could give teams fits.

If it's me making the hire, I'm going after Smart and not taking no for an answer.

But regardless of who the Texas administration goes after, they'll have enough high-quality candidates to make it nearly impossible to mess this one up.

All that remains to be seen is how big of a splash the new UT hoops coach will make on the rest of the Big 12.

Reports have said they'd like to make the hire quickly, perhaps by the end of the coming week. Can't wait to see who it is.

Comments

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 6 months ago

I love the idea of Smart, Miller, or Marshall. But, my dark horse candidate in this race would be Tony Bennett. He has legitimately turned Virginia into a power house the past two years. Coaching Texas will give him better recruiting opportunities and a lot more money. He has that methodical approach and I think it would carry over well in the Big 12. And who wouldn't want to coach a team like Texas that is seriously loaded with talent? I would go after Bennett and not take no for answer.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 6 months ago

Not sure Bennett would be flashy enough for UT. Despite winning the ACC the past 2 years, Virginia still got bounced early in the tournament. Smart and Marshall both have final four appearances and have done so with significantly less of a recruiting base. I think the only way Texas fans and admin walk away happy with this hire is if they land Marshall or Smart. Or perhaps a bigger name, proven commodity like a Sean Miller. Marshall and Smart both coach exciting brands of basketball. Despite his recent success at Virginia, Bennett's style of play is far from exciting.

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 6 months ago

I respectfully disagree. Bennett has experience in a power conference whereas Smart and Marshall do not. They're incredible coaches and have done a great job with the recruits they've gotten, but flashy isn't always the best choice in my opinion. I'm not an expert but if it were my choice I'd go after Bennett first.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

We're talking about the University of Texas, not UVA. UT has a fanbase that is mostly indifferent towards basketball because they are obsessed with football. A coach with a big personality and an exciting brand of basketball is exactly what is required to be successful at Texas while making the fans there care about the program.

Joe Ross 4 years, 6 months ago

Wow. I have no quarrel with you John. But is this comment fair?

Aaron's response to you was germane to the topic at hand. His comments can not be construed as personal at all. Believe me, he and I disagree more than we agree, but experience with him lets me know that he conducts himself respectably nearly always. Im not even saying he's right or wrong in what he says; it's just that the response seems disproportionately caustic.

You have much more to offer than that. I know. Ive seen plenty of good posts by you.

Kyle Rohde 4 years, 6 months ago

Only thing about Bennett is that he's already got a great job in the best basketball conference and I don't know that Texas is any better in stature than UVA as a basketball job. Plus, Bennett is probably going to be Wisconsin's #1 target when Bo Ryan retires in the next 2-3 years, which is a perfect job for Bennett - going home and to a great job his dad once had too.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 6 months ago

Definitely agree on the first contacts, though there is zero chances of getting those 2 to go someplace that isn't home and with next to no tradition to build on. Kruger would seem to be the coach that is in the same caliber and more likely to leave. Also would be fun (for UT) to be able to stick it to a rival. Still seems better to go after a younger coach that has more staying power.

The reason you call them tho is similar to a KU football article about our coaching hire. You don't call the best coaches necessarily to hire them, as much as to talk coaching and candidates. It's not as likely that you get favorable comments when you are calling within the conference, but good coaches have a tendency to produce good coaches so it's worth the inquiry. Self and Holberg (and Kruger) are definitely the best in the Big 12.

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 6 months ago

My first call would be Smart because he is a winner. You put him in the state of Texas with that recruiting base and that could be scary.

The next one would be Arthur Miller because he has been successful at Dayton, and with his pedigree, he could create a winner like his brother in Arizona. Texas could be huge if they get a good hire, and that means we need to up our game.

Between Iowa State now being a very good team, West Virginia, and what Texas could bring to the table, we could have a deep and talented conference that will contend better in the tournament. I will give a mention also to Oklahoma because Kruger is a good coach.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 6 months ago

Whoever they hire I hope they turn Texas into a powerhouse. Hope Hoiberg does the same at Iowa State. The Big 12 is pretty much the weakest conference with possibly the exception of the Pac 12 and KU has become the big fish in a small pond.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

Big 12 is third ahead of the SEC and PAC 12. SEC is Kentucky, usually Florida and that's it. The rest of the league is inconsistent at best. PAC 12 is the worst power conference league.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 6 months ago

NCAA tournament is not a fair indicator of conference strength. Top-to-bottom, there's no question the Big XII was a tougher conference than the SEC and PAC-12. The SEC and PAC-12 have better teams (Arizona and Kentucky) than any team in the Big XII this past season. That doesn't make them better conferences.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

PAC 12 had 3 teams in the tournament this year. Those 3 teams had a good showing in the tournament this year, but after UCLA there was no depth to the league. Only getting 25% of your league in the tournament is not a good thing for a power conference league.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 6 months ago

In the 12 years Bill Self has been at KU, the Big East has 9 final four appearances and 3 national titles; ACC has 7 final fours and 3 (?) national titles; Big 10 has 11 final fours and 0 (?) national titles; SEC has 8 final fours and 3 (?) national titles; Big 12 has 3 final fours and 1 national title. Regular season accolades are fine but at the end of the season no one cares about anything but what is about to take place next weekend. Whatever muscle we flexed during the regular season is being trumped by the tournament.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

How many of those Big East titles and Final Four's are still in the Big East? If I'm not mistaken, there's only 2 Final Four appearances left in that league.

Glen Miller 4 years, 6 months ago

So one tournament that can bounce you if you have one bad game is more of an indicator of the best conferences? You're foolish. How many years does the ACTUAL best team win the Big Dance? Not as often as you probably would like to think. 3 months of games, trumps 3 weeks of games. Always has, always will. The excitement of the tournament and National Championship is bigger, I will give you that.... but not a true indicator of conference strength.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 6 months ago

Certainly hope UT does this right. The conference hasn't been the same since they went all blah these last few years. When was Augustine there leading them?

I'm not sure that Smart brings a nasty style of play that could give teams fits anymore than Huggy. UT/Austin would certainly seem capable of attracting better talent, but I wonder if the better talent is as willing to play that style of ball? I'd also question whether Smart has the persona to make it in Austin/with UT alum.

Definitely agree that UT BB is a sleeping giant that could bring great improvement to the Big 12, so there are lots and lots of candidates.

David Atchley 4 years, 6 months ago

The thought that Texas will command a Coach Self, or Coach K, or any of the coaches from a storied program is laughable. However, the perceived complacency and arrogance that seemed to rear its ugly head for Kansas versus Wichita State, has elevated Gregg Marshall to the notoriety he seems destined to achieve.

Marshall out-prepared, out-coached, and proved to have out-recruited Kansas. Instead of filling his bench with nepotism, Marshall demonstrated how deep of bench he possessed and how disciplined each player came ready to play. As you see the coaches this season still playing in the tournament, Izzo, Pitino, Few, Ryan, Brey....its obvious that coaching still matters and paramount to advancement in the tourney.

Coach Self seems to have fallen prey to the very strategy that finds Coach Barnes at Texas out after 17 years. Instead of recruiting for depth, commitment to program building and development, taking the easier route of recruiting from the list of McDonalds All Americans. "One and done" decimates a program's depth and continuity. Taking up precious seats on the bench with coach's and ex-player's kids, doesn't get you very deep in the tournament.

Gregg Marshall at Texas, with a new basketball arena ready to break ground, the entire State of talent, and his skills, don't bode well for any team in the Big 12.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 6 months ago

I agree with a lot of what you said, David.

If Marshall gets the job, it will be interesting to see if he immediately begins targeting McDonalds All-Americans and OAD type players. Or, will he recruit program guys, albeit more talented than what he recruited to WSU? Will the UT fan base and admin have the patience for Marshall to take a pass on some of top-tier talent that UT has become familiar with? Maybe Marshall would even welcome OAD type talent?

I've said this before. Bill Self is on the brink of heading down a dangerous path of relying too heavily on OAD talent, especially in the front court. The heavy OAD approach can work in some systems and with some coaches that maybe aren't as demanding or as stubborn as Bill Self. But even then, it's going to create inconsistency and will create great fluctuation in a team's success from year-to-year. I just don't think the heavy OAD approach will work for Bill.

Cody Riedy 4 years, 6 months ago

Barnes hasn't made it past the the first weekend since 2008, familiar refrain? No it's not familiar at all. Counting 2008 - Self has led KU to two title games, two final fours, three elite eights, and five sweet sixteens. Have you only been a fan since last year or just have no memory?

Cody Riedy 4 years, 6 months ago

Below is Self's tournament record since he's been at KU along with the records of other hall of fame coaches during that time period:

Self: 5 opening weekend losses; 2 title games

Izzo: 4 opening weekend losses; 1 title game

Pitino: 4 opening weekend losses, 1 missed tournament; 1 title game.

R. Williams: 4 opening weekend losses, 1 missed tournament; 2 title games.

Coach K: 4 opening weekend losses; 1 title game.

Cody Riedy 4 years, 6 months ago

Since Self has been at KU, Mike Brey, Mark Few, and Bo Ryan have combined for 21 opening weekend losses, 5 missed tournaments, and 0 title game appearances.

Kristen Downing 4 years, 6 months ago

My first call would be Mark Few, cause you need to start with the question, how's your fly fishing around Austin? To a lot of coaches, there is more to life than basketball.

Jeff Fugitt 4 years, 6 months ago

Surprisingly the fly fishing around Austin isn’t bad

Bryan Mohr 4 years, 6 months ago

Smart is a bad fit for Texas. Havoc won't work well with bigger guys and power conferences. Look at the teams in the final 4. If you want to excel in the A10 or MVC, then recruit angry and havoc undersized players, but there won't be any championship banners. Texas should hire Larry Brown. They'd have a title in 3 years.

Scott Quiring 4 years, 6 months ago

Anybody else think that Barnes could end up at KU as an assistant? I know he's a great head coach but I think KU is going to have some staff changes this off season. The stuff with coach Howard makes me think that he'll quietly leave the program and we'll have an open spot on the bench. And Barnes can recruit with the best of them. I think it'd be a sweet deal for him, much less stress than he was facing at Texas and he'll go from one great program to another. Plus he'll get to stay in the conference that he knows. I could see him on our bench. Might be a really, really long shot but I wouldn't mind it if it happened!

Kyle Rohde 4 years, 6 months ago

The guy was head coach at Texas for 17 years and is 60 years old - not a chance he's going to be an assistant anywhere, let alone KU. He will get another D1 job.

Scott Quiring 4 years, 6 months ago

Oh I know it's wishful thinking :) He's a great coach and I admire what he did for Texas and for the Big 12. Class act the whole way. I hope he lands somewhere nice but I wouldn't mind seeing him on KU's bench

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

Barnes is going to end up being the coach at Tennessee by the end of the week.

Joe Ross 4 years, 6 months ago

All Rick Barnes' exes live in Texas. That's why he'll hang his hat in Tennessee.

Jay Scott 4 years, 6 months ago

Mark Few would be the biggest home run for the Horns. The AD in Texas, Steve Patterson is generally not well respected. They'll have their hands full making a good hire.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

Names that Texas has reached out to are Gregg Marshall (WSU), Shaka Smart (VCU), Larry Krystowiak (Utah), Jay Wright (Villanova), Kevin Ollie (UConn) and Chris Mack (Xavier). They are also willing to go up to $3 million per season in salary. Based on this list, UT is going to have a pretty good coach next year.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

UT's 247 page. Other stuff I've seen sounds like Shaka Smart is their top choice.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 6 months ago

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/12602595/texas-longhorns-steve-patterson-meet-shaka-smart-make-offer

http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaabk/report-texas-close-to-hiring-smart/ar-AAak3EE

According to these reports, Texas is nearing an agreement with Smart and Texas wasn't interested in Marshall; thought him a bad fit.

Search list included Jay Wright, Tony Bennett, Brad Stevens, Avery Johnson, and John Lucas. An unusual list including varied styles of play, but some interested and qualified candidates. Sounds like Smart, however, wants the job.

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