The Texas Longhorns continued their season-long free fall into oblivion this weekend with a humiliating loss to the Kansas Jayhawks at Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday night. There have been murmurings from fans about head coach Rick Barnes‘ future in Austin over the last few seasons, but now, those murmurings have grown into screams of frustration.
As a long-time supporter of Barnes, I must say that with each passing game, I have to wonder if it isn’t time for the university to part ways with their coach. There is no doubt that when Barnes came to Austin 14 years ago, he turned the program around and took it to the next level. Now, however, it seems that they are back to where they were before he came, and possibly even worse off.
As with anything, there are two ways of looking at Barnes’ career at Texas. With him at the helm, the Longhorns have 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances (which will more than likely come to an end this year), with five trips to the Sweet Sixteen, three trips to the Elite Eight and one Final Four appearance. In that time, he’s also coached two Naismath and Wooden national players of the year and gotten an impressive amount of players to the NBA. He’s been an excellent recruiter, and he did all this at a “football school.”
On the flip side of that, in his 14 seasons in Austin, he has just three Big 12 regular season titles (two of them shared) and zero conference tournament crowns. Additionally, despite consistently fielding NBA caliber talent, he has not made it out of the second round of the post-season in the last four years.
This season, most fans were willing to give him a pass. With this team being the youngest in the NCAA, most understood that it would be a rebuilding year. However, those same fans expected to see some improvement over the course of the season; instead, this young team continues to make the same mistakes each week, and if they happen to finally take one step forward, they follow it up by taking even more steps back. In fact, the issues this year’s team is struggling with are issues that have plagued all of Barnes’ teams.
Bottom line: the Longhorns are in a downward spiral, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.
Again, no one can doubt that Barnes was good for Texas, but as they say, nothing good can last forever. As much as I would hate to see him leave Austin after 14 seasons, there is no need for a university of Texas’ caliber to settle for mediocrity. Therefore, with a bit of sadness, I (a self-proclaimed “sunshine pumper”) must admit that it’s time for the Longhorns to start looking to the future and rebuilding the program, and they simply cannot do that by hanging onto Barnes.