Rick Barnes was able to take Texas basketball to a level it had not reached in the years prior to his arrival, making the 40 Acres an attractive spot for the likes of Kevin Durant and T.J. Ford.
The Longhorns have been to 14 straight NCAA tournaments under Barnes, and that includes a trip to the Final Four in 2003.
But Texas hasn’t advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since 2008, and that’s after doing so in four of the six seasons prior.
Scott Drew has led Baylor to two Elite Eight appearances in the last three seasons, and by many accounts has the “hot program” in Texas despite recent self-imposed sanctions due to impermissible text messages and phone calls.
Has Baylor surpassed Texas as the premier program in the Republic?
According to Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News, Baylor is right on Texas’ heels and the blueprint drawn up by Barnes has been instrumental in their success.
Barnes proved a coach can mine the best talent in Texas and win with it, and that it was possible to import top recruits from elsewhere into football country as well. Later, Drew would smile and say Barnes “paved the way” for him to follow, even though Barnes might have been better off blowing up the road behind him.
Since the 2009 season, numbers that were heavily in favor of the Longhorns have shifted towards the Bears, with Baylor winning six of the last eight head-to-head meetings and owning six NCAA tournament wins to Texas’ one.
And from a recruiting standpoint Drew has been able to attract a higher level of player, with his top signee in each of the last three classes (Perry Jones III in 2010, Quincy Miller in 2011 and Isaiah Austin in 2012) being rated higher than Texas’ highest-ranked recruit.
Barnes has failed to win at least 20 games in a season at Texas just once, winning 19 in his first year (1998-99).
But after a 20-14 season and Baylor welcoming another strong recruiting class, Texas may not have to look in their rear view mirror to find Baylor.