Column: Rick Barnes doesn’t merit being head coach anymore

Aaron Torres

Rick Barnes is fading fast.

Barnes has been Texas’ head coach for 17 seasons and, in that time, he has done very little to merit staying here longer. It’s time for there to be a new head coach for the Longhorns.

Over the course of his tenure, Barnes has coached Texas into the NCAA Tournament 16 times — but he has been to just five Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights and only one Final Four. 

In 11 of those 16 tournaments, Texas hasn’t advanced past the second or third round. Fans barely get a chance to enjoy the Longhorns in the tournament before they are eliminated, and Barnes goes home with yet another postseason loss.

It’s not like Barnes has suffered from a lack of talent in his teams. Through 16 seasons, Barnes has had 16 players drafted. He’s had two National Players of the Year: T.J. Ford in 2003 (also the year of Barnes’ only Final Four appearance) and Kevin Durant in 2007, when Texas was eliminated in the third round to USC, a team led by junior guard Nick Young.

This past season, the Longhorns were not only a contender for the Big 12 conference championship — they might’ve been National Champions. They gave No. 1 Kentucky a good game.

They had the ability.

Texas had arguably the best front court in the nation with freshman forward and phenom Myles Turner and the very intimidating junior center Cameron Ridley. 

To add to that, Texas had sophomore Isaiah Taylor —  arguably the best driving point guard in the nation. If Taylor developed a consistent jump shot, he could be the best point guard in the nation. But, despite all the talent, and a deep bench, Texas still just barely made it to the NCAA Tournament.

Through 17 seasons, Barnes has had enough time to make the adjustments he’s needed to build a national championship run. When his offensive and defensive systems weren’t working, he should have adjusted them to fit the needs of his team.

Basketball is ultimately about what the players do, but it’s the coach’s job to provide guidance — look to Kentucky head coach John Calipari, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Louisville’s Rick Pitino for examples. 

Barnes has struggled to give that guidance in recent years, most noticeably when poor clock management helped Iowa State’s buzzer beater in the Big 12 tournament when Texas failed to take the last shot.

Coaches are sometimes praised for their ability to do “more with less” — as SMU head coach Larry Brown did in the NBA — but Barnes seems to have a knack for doing “less with more.”

It’s time for a new era in Texas basketball.