Just like that, the coaching carousel comes to a stop for Texas.
The University announced on Tuesday the hiring of Rob Lanier, a former Texas assistant who spent the last four seasons at Florida.
It was widely suspected that Lanier was on Rick Barnes’ radar but equally unsure whether the Longhorn head coach would get his man.
“Our entire coaching staff is ecstatic,” Barnes said in a press release on Tuesday. “The fact of the matter is we weren’t sure we could get him here.”
Lanier spent the past four seasons helping build the Gators from SEC contenders to NCAA Elite Eight material under Billy Donovan.
He fills the spot vacated last week by Rodney Terry, another longtime Barnes assistant who left to take the head coaching job at Fresno State on April 7.
It was a quick move by the Texas athletics department, especially compared to the months-long search earlier this year to overhaul the football staff. To be fair, the basketball team required just one coach. Still, it took two weeks for Texas Tech to find a new head coach last month in Billy Gillispie and slightly longer to bring Lon Kruger to Oklahoma from UNLV. It took Barnes five days.
It was such an easy fit because Lanier returns to Texas, where he coached for two seasons from 1999 to 2001. His 9-year-old son, Emory, was born in Austin; he also brings his wife, Dayo, and an 8-year-old daughter, Kai.
“I’m leaving a great friend and coach in Billy Donovan,” Lanier said. “Since the time we left Texas and started our family, we’ve always said if you could draw that perfect place to be as a family and have the quality of life we desire, it would be Austin and the University of Texas.”
Lanier was the main contact when Texas was recruiting T.J. Ford in 2001 and is regarded as an excellent recruiter.
He left Texas for the head job at Siena College in upstate New York where he spent four seasons, earning an NCAA tournament bid in 2002 and an NIT birth in 2003, but was fired in 2005. Lanier moved on to Virginia, where he spent two years, and then Gainesville.
His first big break in coaching came as an assistant at Rutgers from 1997 to 1999. He came to Texas the year after the Scarlet Knights posted a 19-13 mark and made it to the second round of the NIT, and he helped the Longhorns go 49-18 over his two seasons in Austin.
Terry, who left for Fresno State, was an important figure in recruiting current Longhorns Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph. Now Lanier takes over with the 2011 recruiting class soon to arrive, which includes standouts Myck Kabongo and Sheldon McClellan, and the 2012 recruiting period looming on the horizon.