Bohls: It's a no-brainer that Texas put on a full-court press for Chris Beard
- With Shaka Smart's departure, Texas has to strongly go after Chris Beard at Texas Tech.
- Former Longhorn guard Royal Ivey is intriguing, but the NBA assistant hasn't been a head coach.
- Others to consider are Oregon's Dana Altman and Arkansas's Eric Musselman.
Shaka Smart is out.
Chris Beard is in.
Easy-peasy. Or so Texas wishes.
Of course, it won’t be nearly that simple because Beard has every reason to stay at Texas Tech, where his $4.7 million is more than enough to live in Lubbock and dine at Whataburger and where he has instantly shown he can win big.
Otherwise, Texas might have to look at all sorts of candidates, from a Royal Ivey in the Longhorn family to a Dana Altman or an Eric Musselman.
But Ivey’s got zero head coaching experience and would really have to get up to speed fast. Altman’s a Midwesterner who’s 62 and has won everywhere he’s been and has Oregon in the Sweet 16. Musselman has barely unpacked his bags at Arkansas, but his Razorbacks are still dancing in the NCAAs. He’s due a big bump in salary at only $2.5 million, next to last in the SEC.
No one’s been able to pry Mark Few out of Gonzaga, this year’s No. 1 seed in the entire tournament, but a way, way, way backdoor reachout has been made to him. I can’t imagine him ever leaving Spokane.
Should Texas go for a grand slam and kick Rick Pitino’s tires or look at John Beilein, whose caustic comments as the Cleveland Cavs coach for a minute would probably remove any chance he comes to Austin?
It’d be nice to look at Scott Drew, but he seems ensconced at Baylor.
But until he says no, the Longhorns' focus has to be on Beard. This chance won’t come around again, so this could be it. I’m told by someone close to the Texas Tech head coach that it would “depend on the money” and one other crucial factor: “He wants to win championships,” he said.
Well, who doesn’t? Everyone does, but Beard is consumed with the idea, obsessed with piling up trophies and all about getting the next one. He’d be the perfect hire.
But can he win it all with the Red Raiders?
Absolutely, he can.
And he’d probably be foolish to entertain Texas’ attention and intentions as athletic director Chris Del Conte begins a search for a new coach just over a year out from opening a brand-new, stylish Moody Center arena.
In actuality, the search began awhile ago. Smart could have been let go last March when the pandemic erased the postseason and threatened to cost him his job, and Beard was the hot name then, too.
Beard would own Austin.
The world is his oyster right now. There’s not a doubt in my mind he could have had the Indiana job, but the Hoosiers’ facilities don’t rank with the elite of college basketball, and IU has fallen on hard times.
Beard has it going full throttle at Tech. He makes top-10 money, he can operate without big-time scrutiny in a smaller market, he has access to junior college and Power Five transfers he might not be able to get into school in Austin, and he’s comfortable there. I’ve always thought he’d eventually wind up at a North Carolina or a Kentucky, but who knows?
He has no reason to leave other than Texas is his alma mater, where he was a student assistant. He’s a man who prides himself on loyalty, and Texas Tech gave him his first big-time job.
I’m betting he doesn’t leave Tech, not for Texas, but Del Conte would go bonkers if he could land him.
Ivey, 39, the highly respected former Longhorns guard and current assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets, also appeals to Texas, even though he doesn’t have a single day as a head coach at any level and might take some getting up to speed on the college game and recruiting. He’d have to sell his vision to Del Conte and UT President Jay Hartzell.
Ivey also would have to put together an all-star staff to give Texas a comfort level in naming a coach with so little experience. Could he be the next Juwan Howard, who’s been a rising star at Michigan and has the Wolverines in this year’s Sweet 16? He assembled a strong staff that includes Phil Martelli, the all-time winningest head coach at Saint Joseph's.
To no one’s surprise at all, Smart left to take a new gig at basketball-rich Marquette because the Longhorns wanted him gone but didn’t really have the stomach to fire him. Not amid all the turmoil, drama and nationwide focus drawn by the school's alma mater, “The Eyes of Texas.”
Texas wasn’t going to fire Smart.
But it made it clear to the coach that he wasn’t getting it done and it might be best for him to start anew with a change of scenery. Next year’s roster is going to be so depleted that Texas will be fortunate to be a top-tier team in the Big 12, much less on the national scene.
It won’t be all that warm a bed for the next coach, but blankets are on the way.