Following the hiring of former Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard to assume the same role to replace Shaka Smart with the Texas basketball program back on April 1, most of the discussion around the college hoops landscape is zeroed in on Chapel Hill, NC. Legendary now former North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams announced his retirement earlier in the week following 33 years in Chapel Hill.
Williams was surely one of the most well-respected college hoops head coaches in the last few decades. He will go down as one of the all-time greats to ever coach at the college basketball ranks.
This now opens up what is likely to be the most high-profile head coaching position in college hoops this year. There’s a lengthy list of potential coaching candidates that could comprise the Tar Heels head coaching search this offseason. And there seems to be a former Longhorns head coach that could make up the list of potential interviewees for the Tar Heels in the near future.
According to a piece from Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated on April 1, former Texas and current Tennessee Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes was mentioned as a potential “tier 2” coaching candidate for the Tar Heels to look into. Barnes is surely one of the more well-known head coaches around the college hoops landscape, but he’s likely not at the top of the list for UNC at the moment.
Could former Texas basketball HC Rick Barnes be interviewed by UNC?
Here’s more on what Forde had to say in this Sports Illustrated piece on the matter of Barnes as a potential UNC head coaching candidate.
A native of Hickory, N.C., you’d have to think this one would be Barnes’s ideal swan-song job. He’s won more than 700 college games and revived Texas and Tennessee. But at age 66 and owning an undistinguished NCAA tournament record, he’d be swimming upstream to get this one.
The connection between UNC and Barnes as a North Carolina native is surely a legitimate reason for the former Texas head coach to want to pursue this job opening. But most head coaching candidate lists around the media early on in the UNC search don’t have Barnes listed anywhere (including one from Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports published on April 1).
Barnes would surely be worth a look from the Tar Heels, but there are other big-time candidates that could fall in line in the interview process well before him in Chapel Hill. Names like Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett and Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few are some of the most commonly mentioned in discussions with the UNC job.
Replacing Williams is surely a tall task and one that other major conference programs like the Longhorns, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma Sooners have to take on this offseason. Texas already found their next head coach to replace Smart in Beard. And Oklahoma replaced the recently retired former head coach Lon Kruger with former Loyola-Chicago head coach Porter Moser this week.
Texas had finished up with a record of 19-8 (11-6 Big 12) under the direction of the new Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Smart. Despite winning the first Big 12 Tournament crown in program history, Texas ended the offseason on a largely disappointing note by falling short at the hands of the 14-seed Abilene Christian in the Round of 64 back on March 20.