Chris Beard officially takes over at Texas and is all about one thing: winning
Chris Beard’s decision to leave Texas Tech for Texas had nothing to do with money. Both schools pay handsomely, and both would pay whatever it took.
“You are correct. I don’t coach for money,” Beard said Friday. “I coach to win. I want to win championships. I want our players to win. To me, that’s graduation, that’s winning in life. I’m all about one thing: winning.”
The Longhorns’ new men’s basketball coach did double-check the fine print, though.
“I did wait a tick to make that comment until after I signed the contract,” Beard said at his introductory Zoom press conference. “So I did get a little bit of money on this.”
Horns247 reported that Beard has agreed to a seven-year contract worth approximately $35 million, which, if true, would average out to $5 million annually and slide under football coach Steve Sarkisian’s $5.2 million annual total. Texas officials refused to confirm or deny those figures.
All UT contracts must be approved by the UT System Board of Regents, so the concrete figures might not be known for several months.
All that matters is that Beard believes Texas is a better job than Texas Tech, a program that has won the Big 12, has reached the 2018 Elite Eight and the 2019 national championship game, and has built rock-solid fan support. Currently, those are heights Texas can only dream about. The Horns haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2014 and have tepid fan support at best.
Beard is dead set on changing the culture at his alma mater.
“Why Texas?” Beard said. “First, I’ll say this, again, it was one of the most difficult decisions in my life for what we built at Texas Tech. I have nothing but respect and love for that place.”
He thanked Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt and former Red Raiders coaches Bob and Pat Knight for giving him a chance in Lubbock as an assistant.
“But to me, I live my life with a philosophy of no regrets,” Beard continued. “And to have a chance to coach at the University of Texas, where this challenge and opportunity and the power of this institution, fan base, history and tradition, when these things combine, with the hunger that I have, our staff will have and the players will exhibit, special can happen.
“To me, special is Monday night.”
Beard, 48, truly believes Texas can be a “Monday night program,” meaning he thinks the Horns can eventually play in the NCAA championship game. The tournament finale has historically been played on Mondays in late March or early April.
Longhorns athletic director Chris Del Conte, as is his style, raved about how Texas now has the “best coach in America.”
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“I flew to Plainview, Texas, (Thursday) morning at 5 o’clock. Sat in a Comfort Inn,” Del Conte said. “Here comes Coach rolling in. He said, ‘Really?’ Really. Comfort Inn was all we got. We went over to McDonald’s, got ourselves a chicken egg sandwich, coffee, rolled in and spent 3½ hours talking about the University of Texas, talking about what it meant to be a Longhorn.”
Del Conte then added, “It was the most amazing three hours of conversation.” And after Beard contemplated the offer, Del Conte said the Texas Tech coach was “an emotional wreck” thinking about the people he’d be leaving behind.
“I knew what we were getting in a human being, someone who cares deeply about people,” Del Conte said.
The Horns leaned heavily on the alma mater card. Beard practically gave an oral history of the UT program Friday and then said, “I was a five-year redshirt point guard for coach (Tom) Penders. I was open all the time, but B.J. (Tyler) and Terrence Rencher wouldn’t throw me the ball.”
Beard graduated from UT with a kinesiology degree in 1995 and got his master’s degree from Abilene Christian.
“I, too, know what it’s like to return home to a place that you love, to that feeling you have when you know where you’re supposed to be,” UT President Jay Hartzell said.
Beard called on all former UT players to come back. He also made special mention of Royal Ivey, a Texas ex-turned-NBA assistant who played for Rick Barnes and wanted the job. Beard said he had been in touch with Kevin Durant’s family, and T.J. Ford drove in from Houston to welcome the new coach.
Beard is expected to bring multiple members of his Tech coaching staff from Lubbock. He’s also hired UTA head coach Chris Ogden, a Texas ex on the 2003 Final Four team, to come back as an assistant.
Anyone who’s watched Tech the past five seasons knows the Red Raiders played hard-core defense and with a passion that’s unmatched. It’s what turned United Supermarkets Arena into a tough venue. It was a big deal in February 2020 when an undermanned Texas crew went to Lubbock and scored an upset.
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Beard said he spoke with former Texas coach Shaka Smart on Friday morning and wished him well at Marquette. But he’s now going full steam ahead into the future.
Beard will probably have to rebuild the roster through the NCAA transfer portal, something he’s done quite well in Lubbock.
“I really think the game has changed,” he said. “We’ll kind of see where it is. We’ve always tried to stay ahead of the curve a little bit and anticipate things that are coming.”
Beard was 112-55 in his five seasons at Tech. If he has any NCAA success, that means Texas is headed in the right direction.
“Why am I different? I don't think I'm better than anybody,” Beard said. “I was raised with a sense of no entitlement and humility, but I also have a confidence that I've earned through the work that myself and players and staff have done over the years.
“We fear no one,” he added. “We don’t think we're better than anybody. We’re going to have that University of Texas swagger and confidence, but we’re going to have a humbleness to us that allowed us to win at the highest level as well.”