Report: Texas Tech's Chris Beard Front-Runner to Replace Shaka Smart at Texas

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2021

Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard signals to his team as they played against Arkansas in the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard has reportedly emerged as the front-runner to replace Shaka Smart as the men's basketball coach at Texas.

Chip Brown of 247Sports reported Saturday that Beard is the favorite to move between Big 12 programs. The potential hire is unlikely to come before Thursday, when Beard's buyout to leave for another team within the conference drops to $4 million, per ESPN's Jeff Borzello.

Smart left Texas earlier this week to take the job at Marquette in what was viewed as a soft landing since he was on the hot seat after the Longhorns were upset in the 2021 NCAA tournament. It's unclear if Smart would have returned in 2021-22 had he not left on his own accord.

Beard is 112-55 in five seasons at Texas Tech, his second head coaching job at the Division I level. He previously spent one season at Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Red Raiders peaked in 2018-19, going 31-7 and reaching the NCAA championship game before losing to Virginia. Beard has been successful at Texas Tech by targeting transfers, either from JUCOs or other programs.

Texas would be a different job entirely, coming with expectations to land 5-star recruits and make deep runs in the tournament. The Longhorns consistently failed in March under Smart, losing in the first round in each of their three tournament appearances during his tenure. Texas has not made the second weekend since 2008, and the program has been increasingly itching for a return to prominence.

Beard graduated from Texas and was a student assistant under Tom Penders, so it could be difficult for Texas Tech to keep him in Lubbock.

If Texas fails to land Beard, it would have to go back to the drawing board. Kevin Durant recently advocated for fellow former Longhorn Royal Ivey, per Jeff Goodman of Stadium. Ivey is an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets.