I don’t think anyone would deny that The University of Texas is first and foremost a football school. Sure, they’ve had an occasional good run in basketball over the years, but let’s face it: Football is king in Texas and always will be. That said, should the Texas Longhorns basketball program settle for mediocrity? Absolutely not. But that is exactly what they’re doing.
Head coach Rick Barnes has done a lot for the Longhorn basketball program. When he came here, the program was still reeling from a grade scandal under previous head coach Tom Penders, and the team–which had found some success under Penders–was in rapid decline.
In his first season in Austin, Barnes led the Longhorns to the Big 12 conference regular season title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, over the next thirteen seasons, his teams never failed to reach the Big Dance. Until this season.
Now, the team is once again headed into mediocrity–or worse. Missing out on the NCAA Tournament is bad. Missing out on the NIT is even worse. Yet losing in the first round of the College Basketball Invitiational is downright unacceptable.
Or at least it should be.
Most fans will agree; unfortunately, it appears that the “powers-that -be” feel differently.
Earlier today, the Minnesota Golden Gophers fired Tubby Smith, and the UCLA Bruins parted ways with Ben Howland. With these two teams, tournament teams no less, refusing to settle for mediocrity, Texas fans have to wonder why losing has become acceptable for the Longhorns.
It’s time for the university to decide who they want to be. If they are content with being a football school with a mediocre (to bad) basketball program, then by all means, keep things as they are.
However, if they decide that they want to be one of the top basketball programs in the country, then they need to fight their way to the top. It’s not just going to happen without taking the steps required to get there. They need to figure out what it takes to get there, and then go out and do it.
By doing nothing, the Texas administration is telling the world that The University of Texas is fine with mediocrity. I would hope their standards would be much higher than that.
It’s time for some serious soul-searching.