Earlier today, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com posted an interesting column on Rick Barnes (Insiders only, unfortunately) in which he not only asserts what everyone who has been paying attention has noticed — that Barnes is on the hot seat at Texas — but offers up a reason for Barnes’ recent struggles with the Longhorns: his job is no longer his priority in life.
But Barnes had changed. I’m not sure exactly what it was in his life, but something had altered his priority structure. He’s not in his 30s or even 40s anymore, and his family has become the priority in a landscape that doesn’t always promote a quality home life. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not the norm in this industry.
Goodman goes on to say that Barnes has gotten somewhat complacent on the recruiting trail, and it’s one of the biggest reasons that Texas has hit the skids in recent years. Remember, this is the guy that landed Damion James, DJ Augustin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Avery Bradley, Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, Myck Kabongo and some guy named Kevin Durant.
He was as good as anyone.
And despite that — despite making the NCAA tournament in his first 14 seasons at Texas — Barnes could find himself out of a job after this season.
Frankly, it’s one of the most fascinating story lines heading into the season for a number of reasons.
For starters, nothing has gone right for Texas over the course of the last four or five years. Most expected Avery Bradley to be a one-and-done player, but I’m not sure many expected both Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson to leave after one season. Jordan Hamilton lasted two up-and-down seasons in Austin, as did Myck Kabongo, who spent the first 23 games of last season suspended. Julien Lewis and Shelden McClellan, Barnes’ two promising wing talents, both transferred out of the program and Ioannis Papapetrou signed a huge pro deal in Greece. This is coming off of a season where the Longhorns were relegated to the CBI.
Next season’s big names? Javan Felix, Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Jonathon Holmes. Not exactly the TJ Ford’s Texas teams.
Put it all together, and the Longhorns should be happy that TCU joined the Big 12 because it all but guarantees that UT will avoid the basement of the 2013-2014 Big 12.
That’s a long, quick way for the Longhorns to fall, and while it’s not entirely Barnes’ fault, there’s a chance that it could cost him his job.
And that job just so happens to be one of the ten best in the country. I truly believe that, and I know that there are many people that agree with me. Texas has a ton of money and an enormous national profile, but given that the school is a football school in a football state, the pressure to win there is relatively small compared to places like Indiana or Kentucky or Kansas.
Let’s say Barnes does end up getting fired; the demand for that job will be quite high.
In a season where Kentucky wants to go 40-0 and Andrew Wiggins will be auditioning for NBA superstardom while Louisville looks to repeat as national champs, whether or not this ends up being the end of the Rick Barnes era in Austin will be one of the most interesting stories to follow over the next eight months.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.