There has been no one that has spent more time on preseason hot seat lists than Texas head coach Rick Barnes.
Football school or not, that’s what happens when you make 14 straight NCAA tournaments before standing by as your program falls apart. Texas missed the NCAA tournament last season. After the departures of Myck Kabongo, Ioannis Papapetrou (pro), Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan (transfers), Barnes is left with a roster devoid of the talent we expect him to have.
What’s made matters worse is that while Texas is currently going through a period where the state known for Friday Night Lights has suddenly become high school hoops most fertile recruiting ground, Barnes is missing out on seemingly every five-star not named Cameron Ridley.
There is plenty of speculation as to why he’s struggled of late, but there’s no questioning what the result could end up being: if Barnes misses another NCAA tournament, might he be shown the door, along with the Texas AD and football coach?
“I don’t want to disappoint you, but I’m not,” Barnes told reporters when asked if he’s worried about his job status. That’s probably because he “absolutely” thinks his team has enough talent to make the NCAA tournament. “No doubt.”
I’ll respectfully disagree with the “no doubt” portion of that statement, but I don’t think it would be insane if Barnes does happen to get this team dancing. Ridley was a major recruit coming out of high school, and if he puts it all together, the Longhorns have some pieces to surround him with. Throw in the fact that the Big 12 is far from intimidating, and I don’t think a trip to the tournament for Texas would be the craziest thing that I’ve ever seen.
Don’t expect me to bet on it though.