At the complete risk of alienating at least half of the readers, here is a suitable analogy that fits the two programs helmed by Rick Barnes of the University of Texas and Scott Drew of Baylor.
Imagine "Iron Chef," on the hardwood, Big 12 style.
Like a top chef aspiring to be a beacon in his field, Rick Barnes has all the background needed to cite pedigree on his resume. Instead of traveling to France, absorbing all the exquisite cuisine the regions have to offer, Barnes was born in, raised in, and influenced by the ACC.
In the college basketball world, the ACC is Paris—refined, historical, the top training ground. And I guess that makes the Big East the Italy of college basketball—robust, tough, take-no-crap-from-anyone type of place.
After learning under one of the best, Gary Williams (at Ohio State at the time), as a sous chef, Barnes ventured off onto his own, developing programs at George Mason, Providence, and eventually Clemson.
With a desire to run an even bigger kitchen, earn a heftier paycheck, and make a bigger mark in the world of basketball, Barnes left Paris and jumped the pond for the Big 12 and Texas.
With all the history, talent, and coaches in the ACC, it's not surprising that Barnes left Clemson. Even Wolfgang Puck left Paris to realize greater success in the Americas.
But it takes the right kind of chef to put great ingredients together in order to develop a truly incredible meal that will keep people coming back for more and singing praises.
Barnes has brought in all the greatest ingredients basketball has to offer. But instead of bringing in the right ingredients to make a good team, Barnes has just brought in great ingredients without considering how they taste together or with his own cooking style.
Let's consider Barnes is making a cake: he has the best vanilla from Madagascar; the best cream from Bavaria; and the best chocolate from Belgium. But for some reason, he also has included the best shrimp from Cameroon, the best falafel from Turkey, and the best BBQ sauce from Port Arthur.
Sure, all the fireworks and fancy ingredients will do well for entertainment purposes during the first half of the show, leading the team to a 17-0 record.
But when the time comes to solidify the ingredients and create something palatable for the judges during March Madness or even the Big 12 Tournament, something truly disgusting is presented.
Rick Barnes does not know how to recruit the right players for the system he wants to run. He tries to turn BBQ sauce into Bavarian cream. He sautés when he should be baking.
Contrast this with what Chef Scott Drew has developed in his tiny, unassuming, mocked kitchen in Waco.
Chef Drew may not have the best vanilla from Madagascar, but he knows not to put BBQ sauce in a cake. He'll take vanilla from Monroe, LA, and his chocolate from Mesquite, TX.
He is an up-and-comer, a feisty youngster out to prove his worth in a world of coaches who don't feel he has a place at the table.
Drew might not have the enviable background that Barnes does, and he may have to put up with people saying, "If it wasn't for your father…," but he has taken a restaurant that burned down and lost all of its customers and turned it into a quality program that produces wins with cheaper ingredients.
It is truly astonishing that such a competitive product has developed in such a short period of time at Baylor. Baylor basketball, continuing with the analogy, was boarded up and "Closed for Business."
It's no wonder why coaches in the Big 12, or at least Barnes, has distaste for Drew and what he has done at Baylor. I doubt Bobby Flay would be pleased if Church's Chicken fared better in a taste test against his Mesa Grill.
It's all about the bottom line, and Baylor's success this season has proven that Scott Drew knows how to develop a team better than Rick Barnes.
Chef Drew is at the market fighting for scraps after Chef Barnes has bought all the high-quality ingredients.
Amazingly, Drew's dishes have outshined Barnes' three times this season—hands down, no contest.
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