Reports broke on Saturday afternoon that the University of Texas planed to fire Head Coach Rick Barnes on Sunday or Monday. Unnamed sources then indicated that Athletic Director Steve Patterson wants to hire a new coach “within a week”.

A short timeline for a major decision typically indicates that there is significant momentum behind the scenes. In other words, Patterson knows who he wants to hire and is confident about his ability to do so.

Regardless, here is a rolodex of names – some of which should…some of which should not be considered:


The Nick Saban syndrome - John Calipari; Tom Izzo; Mike Krzyzewski; Rick Pitino; Brad Stevens

The Longhorn fanbase believes “We’re Texas” means Bellmont can pull out a checkbook and hire anybody. Throw in a new facility, the in-state high school talent available, and a great coach – stir – bake at 350 for 6 months, and presto…Texas is instantly elite.

Not only is it not that easy, the names on the list above aren’t taking the Texas job – no matter what flight tracker says.


Plan “B” – Billy Donovan; Bill Self

Names that should be on this list, but aren’t: Mark Few; Mark Turgeon

The first thing I need to make clear is that I despise the term “money whip”. Internet lingo like BMD and money whip have no place in every day lexicon. Rant over.

Consider Donovan and Self as two realistic names that are a notch below the first list – “Krzyzewski-light”, if you will.

Donovan won national titles at Florida in 2006 and 2007. A branch from Rick Pitino’s coaching tree, Donovan’s Gators missed making the field of 64 in 2008 and 2009 before a string of three consecutive trips to the Elite 8, followed by a Final 4 appearance in 2013.

Texas fans are familiar with Self, coach of the Kansas Jayhawks: the team that’s dominated the Big 12 for a decade. While Self and the Jayhawks ran roughshod over the league for ten years, their NCAA results were not as consistent. Self won a national title in 2008, but fell victim to several tournament upsets since that championship.

Whether Donovan or Self would take a call from Patterson is questionable. Both men have turned down other job offers but if Patterson wants a proven winner, with experience at a program similar to Texas, he has to make both calls.

A source indicated to HornSports that Donovan is Patterson’s top choice.


Splash hires – Gregg Marshall; Shaka Smart

“Splash hire” is akin to money whip in my book. The concept of making a head coaching hire in the interest of the publicity buzz it creates is short-sighted and a trap that snares too many Athletic Directors and General Managers.

That’s not to say that either Marshall or Smart would be poor choices as the next head coach of the Longhorns – it’s more in the interest of pointing out that no matter how much success Wichita State and Virginia Commonwealth have, translating those accomplishments at a school like UT is a very difficult proposition.

Marshall parlayed significant success at Winthrop University to the head coaching job at Wichita State University. After a couple forgettable seasons while Marshall strengthened the roster, the Shockers have become one of the most powerful mid-major teams in the country. Wichita State followed up a Final 4 appearance in 2013, by streaking to a 35-0 before losing to Kentucky by two points in the NCAA tournament in the Round of 32. In 2015, Marshall guided WSU to the Sweet 16 before losing to Notre Dame.

Smart’s VCU Rams won the CBI tournament in 2010. VCU then advanced to the Final 4 of the NCAA Championship in 2011, Smart’s second year at the school. In the last 4 years, VCU has advanced to the Round of 32 twice, and has two losses in the opening round. While most think of Virginia Commonwealth as a tiny underdog, it should be noted that Smart was preceded by Anthony Grant (76-25 in three seasons) and Jeff Capel before that (79-41 in three seasons).


Others receiving votes: John Beilein; Tony Bennett; Fred Hoiberg; Jim Larrañaga

Considering that there are six possibilities listed above these names, there is little chance that any of them get consideration, much less a phone call from Patterson. Nevertheless, each of these coaches represents an attractive option for UT.

They all coach in a Power 5 conference, so they’re accustomed to all the trappings associated with a job like Texas. Additionally, all four coaches have won conference tournaments or regular season championships.

Bottom line is that Beilein, Bennett, Hoiberg, and Larrañaga will not get an interview unless Patterson is turned down four or five times. However, a case could be made for any of these names to be higher on a list of potential hires.


Rick Barnes meets John Mackovic: Jamie Dixon; Jay Wright

Aside from being the best dressed men in college hoops, Dixon and Wright share several commonalities: they win a lot of games, they have historical success in March Madness on their resume, and they have fanbases that think their school can do better.

On the face of things, hiring Dixon or Wright seems like replacing Rick Barnes with Rick Barnes. There’s something to be said for a change in scenery and both coaches would find it easier to recruit Dallas and Houston while at Texas, than it currently is to recruit East Coast stars to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Beyond that, Dixon and Wright are East Coasters and have the potential to acclimate at UT like John Mackovic and his taste for wine. Bottom line is that either choice would be considered an extremely safe hire by Patterson and would be met with apathy by burnt orange hoop-heads.


High risk = High reward = You’re fired if you get it wrong: Larry Krystkowiak; Archie Miller

Krystkowiak and Miller are both young men whose coaching stars are on the rise. Compared to VCU or WSU, at Utah (Krystkowiak) and Dayton (Miller), both coaches are more familiar with the pressures and responsibilities that come with a job like Texas.

The hang-up with both names is that Patterson is already gambling with his hire of Charlie Strong. Smart money is that Patterson will make a safer choice in hoops in hopes of mitigating the risk in his portfolio.
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