Rick Barnes is the winningest coach in University of Texas men’s basketball history, but after a poor regular season finish and an early exit from the NCAA Tournament this year his future appears to be in doubt. Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman is reporting that athletic director Steve Patterson wants Barnes to make changes, particularly to his coaching staff, and if those changes don’t happen Barnes and his entire staff have a good chance to be fired.
Barnes and Patterson have reportedly had two face-to-face meetings in recent days, though it’s unclear how those meetings went. Frankly, Patterson seems to be looking for a reason to fire Barnes and he’ll surely have his sights set on hiring a notable name as a replacement.
Wichita State lost to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night, and now speculation surrounding coach Gregg Marshall can come fully to the surface again. Amid news earlier this week that Alabama was getting ready to make a significant offer to him once the Shockers’ season was over, Marshall acknowledged he’d have to listen to a “crazy” offer if one came. But what if that offer came from Texas, and not Alabama?
There are a lot of similarities between Alabama and Texas, as at both schools men’s basketball is a something of a secondary citizen to football on the athletic landscape. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.com reported on Monday that Alabama officials are prepared to offer Marshall more than $3 million per year to take over as coach. Texas can surely offer something similar financially if they want to, and they can also cite a track record of better success in basketball to help lure Marshall to Austin and away from Tuscaloosa.
The buyout Barnes would be due reportedly drops from $1.75 million to $1.5 million on April 1, but that $250,000 difference may not be a significant factor if Patterson wants to make a change immediately.
Marshall has built a strong program at Wichita State, with four straight NCAA Tournament appearances highlighted by a 2013 Final Four run and an undefeated regular season in 2013-14. He has rejected interest from a few other bigger schools in recent years, including Missouri, Tennessee and California, but Texas would be a better situation and a hard job to turn down if all things are equal.
Barnes of course has to actually be fired for the job to be open, and Marshall has to be willing to make a move out of what can best be called his comfort zone. But I don’t see either of those things as major barriers for change at this point, and Patterson should absolutely lead the way in making a substantial offer to Marshall very soon.
Brad Berreman is a Columnist/Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.