Tag Archives: rick barnes

Finally, Some Signs of Stability For Texas

In case you missed it, The University of Texas made what could be its most important hire in the last decade, and potentially the next several decades to come. Somehow, university President Greg Fenves was able to lure away TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte to hire him at the same position at UT.

Now I’ll admit, I don’t know the name of a good Athletic Director from a bad one, but it is obvious to me which athletic programs are on stable ground. And the fact that I actually know the name Chris Del Conte means he must have been doing something right to get my attention. He’s built quite the program at TCU, so the hope is high that he will do the same at Texas.

The reason this is a monumental hire in my opinion is because the Texas athletic department as a whole has been a complete mess ever since Deloss Dodds left in 2013. Steve Patterson was hired and fired within two years, and for very good reasons. Patterson is one of the main reasons why Texas athletics is in the poor shape it’s in right now, mainly because of the wholesale changes he made in order to transform the program into more of a professional sports franchise.

I’m not going to get into the disaster Patterson created, and the mess interim Athletic Director Mike Perrin inherited (and did a remarkable job of damage control), but you can read a local Austin media member’s account of the situation here. If you have any interest in Texas sports at all, take 10 minutes and read it. You will understand why the Texas program has been a dumpster fire for the last several years.

What the hiring of Del Conte as the permanent AD means is the program is finally on the right track for stability. Often times, the hiring of a new AD means changes will be made, particularly on coaching staffs. However, I can’t see that being the case here.

Let’s face it, for the better part of two decades, I only knew of three coaches and one AD as a Texas supporter. Mack Brown, Rick Barnes, Augie Garrido and Deloss Dodds were prominent figures and represented the stability of the program. When you look back at the stability, it’s really no surprise the success all three of the major programs at Texas had during their time.

Since 2013, there have been three Athletic Directors, two head football coaches and multiple staff changes among the three major programs. Shaka Smart is the longest tenured coach of the big three sports, and he was hired as the basketball coach in 2015.

Will Del Conte come in and immediately create a stable program? Time will tell. However, based on his track record during his nine years at TCU, I would say he knows a thing or two about stability. During his time there, TCU has become nationally relevant in football and is a constant participant in the College World Series. He hired a new basketball coach last year and now that program is rejuvenated and considered to be an above-average team in the Big 12.

The main issues I can see Del Conte having is dealing with the pressure from the fans, media and mostly the big money donors. Patience is not something that’s very common around UT fans and donors today, so every move Del Conte makes will be under the microscope. I have all the confidence that he will shake the hands that need to be shaken and get in good graces with the most important people involved with the university, though.

But as we saw with arguably the most stable group of people the university has ever seen, no one is safe if the results don’t match the expectations.

Signs of stability are good, since there hasn’t been much of it surrounding the athletic department in recent years. I personally think Del Conte is a homerun hire and just hope the pressures of being the Athletic Director at Texas doesn’t force him to alter what has worked for him in the past.

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Rick Barnes is Just Getting Started in Knoxville

After a continuous train of new basketball coaches in the last couple of decades, the Tennessee Volunteers seem to have found a guy that will bring consistency to the court, at least for the years he has left. Rick Barnes, recently hired at Tennessee last spring, has come into his new job ready to go, with new life in him. When Rick Barnes was first hired, most people thought that he was too old to bring excitement back to a program that had seemed lost ever since that fateful day Bruce Pearl left. But now, I can see many different reasons why Rick Barnes is the guy we need for now, and I think the rest of the fan base is coming around as well.

Now, to understand Tennessee basketball, you have to realize that most Tennessee football fans don’t care about the basketball team. Yeah, they will tell you they are fans of the team, but they don’t watch the games, keep up with the team or even show any emotion. The only time I ever notice fans coming out of the woodwork is when the Vols need a new head basketball coach. And the only reason they care at that point in time is because they want Bruce back. Don’t get me wrong; Bruce Pearl coming back ‘home’ would give me more happiness than the entire athletic department has since I was a kid. But I know this will never happen, and that is okay.

I was unsure of Coach Rick Barnes when he was hired, but I saw a ton of positives that came with having him as the Vols’ head coach. Now that I have been able to understand Barnes a little better and I have watched his team play, my opinion seems to get more positive with every week that goes by. Although more time is needed to mold my final opinion of the coach, I can’t help but find myself more excited about Tennessee basketball than I have been since the Bruce Pearl days. That is saying a lot.

Rick Barnes hasn’t had a mind-blowing start to the season (4-3), but that was expected with the weak starting lineup we began the season with.

Whether it was Buzz Peterson, Donnie Tyndall, Cuonzo Martin or Bruce Pearl running the show, each of them seemed to lack the coaching ability to get the most talent out of our players. Yes, even Bruce Pearl is not the best x’s and o’s guy. That being said, half of these coaches showed at least a glimpse of being the right guy, but in the end, none of them worked out.

Since he was hired last spring, I can already tell that Rick Barnes is better at coaching the game of basketball than any of our recent previous coaches. It may be because he has been in the game so long that he has literally seen everything or maybe he really is one of the greatest coaches at the collegiate level, I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, he is making a positive impact on our players.

This was no more apparent than when Barnes told Kevin Punter that he was changing his shot, shortly after seeing Kevin shoot around. Kevin Punter’s shot was as ugly as they come, and it seemed like a miracle when the ball went in the basket. So here comes Rick Barnes and his first major act as head coach of the Volunteers is to completely reinvent the jump shot of a junior college transfer with only one year left at Tennessee. A bold move for Barnes that has not only played out well but has changed Kevin Punter’s entire game, for the better.

Even though Kevin Punter scored a lot last year, his stats this year are just insane. Punter is playing about 3 more minutes a game, but he is averaging double the amount of points he had last year and has significantly increased his field goal, three point and free throw percentages. I realize that he is one of the main scorers that the Volunteers have now, but he also moved to point guard, which is a tougher position to get good scoring opportunities at. That’s just one example of what Coach Rick Barnes brings to the coaching table at Tennessee, and I’m sure that he is doing more behind the scenes that the majority of us don’t hear about.

To piggyback off of the point I just made, Coach Barnes has also brought some excitement to the Vols through the style of play that he implemented. Cuonzo Martin had this idea that if you played defense lights out, then you didn’t need to score, and that didn’t sit well with Volunteer fans. The reason Vol fans couldn’t handle Martin is because he had the most boring team in the nation, with multiple future NBA players on it. He didn’t like when players scored, and Tennessee had been accustomed to scoring prior to Martin’s arrival.

Now that Barnes is in Knoxville, he has reignited some fires due to the way his teams play. They run well, play fast in transition, rebound and SHOOT the ball, a lot. That’s the definition of what every Tennessee basketball fan wants to see. And to top it all off, the team takes good shots, for the most part. The best part about it all is that the team plays in control of their bodies and doesn’t just fly around like bats out of hell. Everything they do has a purpose. Rick Barnes has already made watching the BasketVOLS a little more bearable. The only thing left to do is get to the tournament.

One of the most important qualities I believe a coach can possess is the ability to completely immerse yourself into a program. Learn the traditions, the fight song and know the University at which you are coaching. That is another reason why Rick Barnes is a great fit. He knows a lot more about Tennessee basketball than the average coach. Even though that is mainly due to his wife graduating from Tennessee, I still get the feeling he cares about this program, unlike Cuonzo Martin or Buzz Peterson.

One example in particular is Rick Barnes wanting to bring back an old tradition that had since become lost throughout the years of Tennessee basketball. The Tennessee basketball team used to run through a wooden ‘T’ as they were announced in the starting lineups. The tradition dates back to the times of Ray Mears and the Bernie and Ernie show, which you basketball fans should know about. The tradition was cut a decade or so ago, but is a nostalgic sight for Rick Barnes, as well as the older crowd. There is no doubt in my mind that the players enjoy having the tradition back too. While this is only one minor example that illustrates Rick Barnes himself buying in to the program, you get the feeling that he really does care about bringing stability back to this basketball team.

I don’t know if Rick Barnes is the guy to thrust Tennessee basketball into the national spotlight for the first time since Bruce Pearl, but one thing is for sure, he is going to try. Also, I believe the jury is still out on if Barnes can put the Vols in a position to contend for anything more than a tournament birth, but I can’t ask for anything more than effort. The only question left is can Rick Barnes still consistently recruit at a high level? My initial thought is no, but Barnes seems to be catching some momentum in recruiting right now, so we have to wait and see. Even if Barnes has lost some of his recruiting luster, Desmond Oliver has the Carolinas on lockdown while Chris Ogden and Rob Lanier can hold their own on the trail as well. Although I think the Vols will be a bubble team this year, as long as the team progresses and the program reaches some sort of stability, then Rick Barnes’ time here was a success.

(Photo Courtesy of aaronisnotcool/Flickr)

The Pipeline: Rick Barnes Hired at Tennessee

What a whirlwind of a week already for Rick Barnes. A few days ago, the newly hired Tennessee basketball coach was ending his time at Texas by way of press conference, and that’s how he finished his day today. Barnes, after taking a tour of Tennessee’s campus and facilities, found himself in front of bright lights and media members inside Pratt Pavilion this afternoon.

[PODCAST: @_SEC411: #9: Will The Real UT Please Stand Up]

Unfortunately, the press conference was muddied by extreme technical difficulties. It was almost impossible to hear the end of the Q&A section, which is the most Tennessee thing to ever happen. As if we hadn’t been through enough coaching searches and NCAA problems, the press conference was the kicker. Despite the messed up microphones, one thing is for sure, Rick Barnes knows what he is doing.

From the very start, Barnes commanded respect from the podium. He covered all facets of the Tennessee coaching job that he needed to in order to make the fans happy. Rick Barnes immediately started working on Volunteer fans by mentioning his previous ties to not only the University, but Tennessee basketball as well. Barnes had been in talks with UT almost two decades ago to become the head coach of the BasketVols, but went a different direction instead. Probably the most important thing he said was he admired Pat Summit specifically, but other coaches linked to Tennessee basketball as well. Rick Barnes is a great speaker, and he was able to make the fans, players, and university more comfortable about their current situation.

CBdKnOkWQAExMBBThere are many reasons why Tennessee fans should feel good about the hire and the future. Barnes made it clear that he wants to run a clean, humble, dedicated program that people, and more importantly the university, can be proud of. Barnes seems to have the fan base figured out as well. He brought up tradition and his “Southern tendencies” multiple times, something that will make fans immediately gravitate towards him. Volnation could finally breathe a sigh of relief when Barnes said he was reenergized when he walked onto campus. He felt like he could build this program up to new heights, a task fans will welcome with open arms. As far as style of play, Barnes didn’t mention much, but did talk about emphasizing defense and rebounding, while playing good overall basketball. A great relief from the foul heavy team we saw last year. With Barnes at the helm, the Vols look to have some NCAA tournaments in the future, and that’s all Vol fans are really asking right now.

[McLain: Tyndall Fired as Tennessee Basketball Coach]

Rick Barnes said everything the right way today. He was clear, for the most part, about where the Vols are, and what to expect. There’s no doubting Barnes’ resume either. The guy can win, and he looks to be an amazing hire for the Tennessee Volunteers. If Barnes can piece together a decent recruiting class, the Vols should be in good position for a tournament bid in the future. Maybe not next year, but by year two he will be knocking on the door. Rick Barnes has my approval, which means nothing really, but he definitely swayed the naysayers with his press conference.

Leave a comment for Hollis or e-mail him at [email protected].

Red River Shootout Should Be Mack Brown’s Last Stand

This weekend Texas will face Oklahoma, in Dallas, in what I still call the Red River Shootout. It won’t be pretty, or at least it shouldn’t be based on what we’ve seen from Texas this year. Texas lost to Oklahoma 55-17 in 2011 and 63-21 in 2012, and unless Texas is somehow able to convince the game officials to help them again Saturday at the Cotton Bowl, this will hopefully be the end of the Mack Brown Era. I’m obviously no longer a fan of Mack Brown, and it isn’t because I don’t like him as a person, but it has more to do with his performance in his job over the past several years.

We’re angry about your performance too, Mack. Credit: Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman/CC

I think Brown is in over his head at Texas. I think the game has passed him by, and I’m not saying that I think he’s old (he is), but he’s coaching 1990’s football in 2013. I’m also not suggesting he retire and not coach anymore, but he should leave Texas and coach somewhere else. Texas is a big school. Texas is the number one revenue generating school in the country. Number 1, and it has been for the better part of five years. When your program generates 50-plus percent of that income for your school’s athletic department, your team needs to be better than it has been.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has already announced that he’ll leave his position next year, and as I’ve stated on many a College Football Round Table, the same needs to happen to Mack Brown. He isn’t the only one who needs leave. It’s time for men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes and baseball coach Augie Garrido to leave as well. Texas needs to clean house in order to save its entire athletic program.

I posed this question to the panel a few weeks ago: Are the Longhorns the best team in Texas anymore? Are they the third or possibly even the fourth best team in Texas? If your answer to the first question is no and/or your answer to the final question is yes, then the program has lost its way. There’s no reason a school the size of Texas should be fourth best team in the state.

If you’re wondering who the better teams are, they’re Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas Christian. I’m willing to concede that TCU and Texas can interchange places three and four. Are Texas A&M and Baylor that much better than Texas? Yes, and they’re light years ahead of Texas in terms of recruiting and offensive play and scheming. Baylor doesn’t play defense, but if they played the Longhorns in Waco, in Austin, or in any 22,000 seat high school stadium, they’d be Texas by 30.

Is there a chance Mack Brown can save his job? Of course. Beating Oklahoma cures all, at least in the short term. Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz in week two this year, and brought in Greg Robinson who is old school like Mack Brown. Again, the problem is Brown not recognizing the changing trend in college football.

Brown needs Texas to win and in a somewhat convincing style Saturday against Oklahoma, but I don’t have confidence they will. I honestly believe that the Sooners will win the 108th meeting convincingly, and I hope, for the sake of the entire Longhorn athletic program, that Brown is fired Lane Kiffin style after the game.

Operating under the assumption (hope) that Brown loses to Oklahoma and Bob Stoops on Saturday, the Red River Shootout should be Mack Brown’s last stand.