If I weren't so slow in writing this, I would have come across as prophetic.
About a month ago while watching the University of Texas Men's basketball team struggle against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (a 76-70 win), I realized that this program will not win a title under Rick Barnes.
History definitely supports this stance, although the current woes of the Longhorns are prime evidence.
With losses to Oklahoma, Baylor, and even Connecticut, one must wonder what kind of leadership this bunch of talent is receiving. Connecticut is getting destroyed in the Big East and Oklahoma is a team that has lost to VCU, San Diego, and Baylor by 31 points.
Texas does have talent; however, the use of that talent must be questioned.
And this is not a 2009-2010 phenomenon under Barnes.
No, it should not be assumed that he should have taken them to the Final Four with Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin back in 2007; however, he has amassed a talent pool during his tenure that has been pretty outstanding.
Prior to Rick Barnes coming to Texas, the Longhorns were a program with some trouble under Tom Penders. However, on the court, it could be argued that their success was almost equal to what is being experienced now, except Penders had much less talent.
Penders took the Longhorns to the tournament eight out of 10 years with one Sweet 16 (1997) appearance and an Elite 8 (1990) appearance. In those eight years, Penders' teams overachieved at an amazing level—save for 1992—when Texas as an eight seed lost to Iowa, a nine seed. Let's take a look at these eight appearances:
1989: Texas (No. 11) defeats Georgia Tech (No. 6) in first round and lost to Missouri (No. 3) in second round
1990: Texas (No. 10) defeats Georgia (No. 7) in first round, defeats Purdue (No. 2), and lost to Arkansas (No. 4) in the Elite 8
1991: Texas (No. 5) lost to St. John's (No. 4) in the second round
1992: Texas (No. 8) lost to Iowa (No. 9) in the first round
1994: Texas (No. 6) lost to Michigan (No. 3) in the second round (Michigan studded with Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard)
1995: Texas (No. 11) blew out Oregon (No. 6) in first round and lost to Maryland (No. 3) in the second round
1996: Texas (No. 10) beat Michigan (No. 7) in the first round and lost to Tim Duncan-led Wake Forest (No. 2)
1997: Texas (No.10) beat Wisconsin (No. 7) in the first round and lost to Louisville (#6) in the Sweet 16
Tom Penders never lost a game to a lower seed outside of the Iowa game in 1992. Compare this with what Rick Barnes has accomplished over the past 10 years:
1999: Texas (No.7) lost to Purdue (No. 10) in the first round
2000: Texas (No.5) lost to LSU (No. 4) in the second round
2001: Texas (No. 6) lost to Temple (No. 11) 79-65 in first round
2002: Texas (No. 6) beat Mississippi State (No. 3) in second round before losing to Oregon (No. 2) in Sweet 16
2003: Texas (No. 1) lost to Syracuse (No. 3) in the Final Four
2004: Texas (No. 3) lost to Xavier (No. 7) in the Sweet 16
2005: Texas (No. 8) lost to Nevada (No.9) in the first round
2006: Texas (No. 2) lost to LSU (No. 4) in the Elite 8
2007: Texas (No. 4) lost to USC (No. 5) 87-68 in the second round
2008: Texas (No. 2) lost to Memphis (No. 1) in the Elite 8
2009: Texas (No. 7) lost to Duke (No. 2) in the second round
Only once in 11 years, has a Rick Barnes' team defeated a higher seed in the tournament in his tenure: the 2002 win over Mississippi State in the second round. Compare this with Penders, who accomplished the feat six times in eight years.
A case could be made that Penders was successful in the tournament with much less talent. The notable names under Penders? Kris Clack, Chris Mihm, Travis Mays, B.J. Tyler, Terrence Rencher, and Reggie Freeman.
Compare those names with these who have played under Rick Barnes: AJ Abrams, LeMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, TJ Ford, Daniel Gibson, Royal Ivey, Chris Mihm, and P.J. Tucker.
Rick Barnes has brought in some great players who have gone on to have solid professional careers. The same could not be said for his predecessor.
But what about the players who "got away" under Barnes?
One of the marks of a truly great program is to keep the best players in the state. Barnes has let many get away.
It would be difficult to blame Darrell Arthur, a Dallas native, for going to Kansas. Kansas is one of "THE" schools that basketball players want to attend, like North Carolina, Duke, and Syracuse.
But what about Chris Bosh or Deron Williams?
Both Texas bred, they chose Georgia Tech and Illinois, respectively.
A "top-notch" program, such as Texas claims to be, should not be losing players to Georgia Tech. Heck, even Kendrick Perkins chose Memphis over Texas before jumping to the NBA.
Gerald Green (Oklahoma State), Ike Diogu (Arizona State), Bracey Wright (Indiana), Quinton Ross (SMU) and Acie Law (TX A&M) all chose schools other than Texas during Barnes' tenure.
The teams Rick Barnes has presented have consistently underachieved.
His non-conference record against big schools (those within the larger conferences such as the ACC, Big East, C-USA, Pac-10, etc.) is 34-27 (44-37 including the NCAA tournament) with very few significant victories—the most notable being the 1999 win over eventual champs Michigan State.
If the losses to small schools (Nevada, San Diego, Princeton, etc.) are included in the overall non-conference record, it drops to 44-48 (including the NCAA tournament).
Outside of the NCAA tournament, Rick Barnes barely defeats the teams UT is supposed to beat. When they arrive to the tournament, they more often than not lose to teams they are supposed to beat.
The Rick Barnes' era should end. The potential for a National Championship under Rick Barnes is fading.
The marriage with UT has come with moderate success, but this program needs an invigoration to get them to the next level.
A separation would be good for both parties, as Barnes would be free to go back to the ACC, where it appears his heart may have been this entire time.
He's had all the talent necessary to win thus far.
History is telling us that he is incapable of turning the University of Texas into one of "THE" teams.
Although maybe he'll be here forever as most Longhorns' fans are currently giddy about "signing day" for the football program.
I guess just making the tournament is good enough for them.
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