Big 12 Basketball

Coaching Candidates to Replace Chris Beard at Texas

The Texas Longhorns made the move to fire men’s basketball coach Chris Beard on Thursday, so now what happens with his job?

For the second time in three years, athletic director Chris Del Conte will have to make a decision about who will lead his men’s basketball program.


The good news for Del Conte is that because it’s Texas, he can go a lot of different directions. The program can hire just about any coach on the market, given its financial resources and the prestige of the school. But he also has to deal with boosters that may want their own way.

For now, candidates break down by categories, and not necessarily specific candidates, which will become clearer later this year.

The Interim Head Coach

Rodney Terry is now the interim head coach at Texas and no longer the acting head coach. It means that Terry now has his opportunity to show Del Conte that he’s the right choice to lead the program.

Terry has been a head coach before — seven seasons with Fresno State and three seasons with UTEP. He went 163-156, getting the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament in 2015-16.

What will impress Texas brass and boosters? Probably a season that exceeds Beard’s first season, which saw the Longhorns reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The good news is he has a great team to coach and no longer has the distraction of Beard around the program. The bad news is that boosters are hard to impress.


The ‘Corporate’ Coaches

For lack of a better term, that’s where John Calipari and Rick Pitino fall. Both are currently employed — Calipari is at Kentucky and Pitino is at Iona — but you’d better believe that they’ll be attached to the job in some way.

Both are incredibly successful on the court and on the recruiting trail. Both have won national championships. Both bring considerable baggage to Austin.

Calipari is coaching at one of the game’s blue bloods and he would be considerably harder to get. Pitino had rehabbed his coaching career at Iona, leading the Gaels to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2021. His last Power 6 job was at Louisville and he left in disgrace. Would Pitino want one last shot at trying to win a title, with all of the considerable resources Texas can bring to bear?

The Big 12 Poacher?

Would Del Conte seek to poach a head coach from a Big 12 program? Well, you have to think about it because that’s what he did last time (Beard). He knows first-hand just how good this conference is.

The problem? Well, I think every Big 12 coach is where they want to be. Bob Huggins (West Virginia) is at his retirement job. Same goes for Mark Adams (Texas Tech). Bill Self (Kansas) and Scott Drew (Baylor) have national titles and long-term deals. Jamie Dixon (TCU) is at his alma mater. T.J. Otzelberger (Iowa State) may as well be an ISU grad as long as he was there as an assistant. Porter Moser (Oklahoma), Mike Boynton Jr. (Oklahoma State) and Jerome Tang (Kansas State) are good coaches, but don’t have enough pizzazz to wow Texas boosters.

So, no, I don’t see any real chance of Del Conte luring a Big 12 coach to Austin.


The SEC Poacher?

Now, if you’re trying to prep your program for the SEC, then grabbing a current SEC coach is worth a look. But, if not John Calipari, then who?

Every SEC job is a good job. One SEC coach is someone then Longhorns are quite familiar with — Rick Barnes. But good luck luring him back.

The two coaches that should be most intriguing to Del Conte is Arkansas’s Eric Musselman and Alabama’s Nate Oats. Musselman has turned the Razorbacks back to their former glory under Nolan Richardson. He’s taken the Razorbacks to the Elite Eight the past two years. Oats has done similar work with the Crimson Tide.

The NBA Option

Lately, former NBA players have turned their attention to leading college programs, and there’s been some success. Juwan Howard (Michigan), Anfernee Hardaway (Memphis) and Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt) are just a few examples. Would Del Conte go that direction?

Well, if you do, you should find a player that has coached. Howard, for example, was a Miami Heat assistant for six years before taking the Michigan job.

Royal Ivey fits the bill. He played at Texas, played 10 years in the NBA and is now an assistant at Brooklyn. Sam Cassell, now with Philadelphia, has flirted with college jobs. Vin Baker has been a Bucks assistant for four seasons. Another Heat assistant, Caron Butler, had a long NBA playing career. Jason Terry is an assistant at Utah who has also flirted with colleges.  

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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