Here’s a quick update on where things stand with Tennessee’s search for a basketball coach. If you missed it, check out our updated coaching hot board.
Rick Barnes is officially out at Texas after 17 seasons, 16 NCAA Tournaments, four conference coach of the year awards (1999, 2003, 2008, 2014) and an impressive 402-180 (.691) overall record. In stops at Texas, Clemson and Providence, Barnes has been to the NCAA Tournament 22 times in 27 seasons. Barnes missed the NCAA Tournament just twice in the last 21 years. For perspective, Tennessee as a program has been to the NCAA Tournament less than Barnes.
Why is that important? Barnes is available and wants to coach again. He was making over $2.5 million per season at Texas but may be willing to take another job for less thanks to a $1.75 million buyout.
That’s relevant because, in addition to this report, we’ve heard from multiple sources that Tennessee has in fact been in contact with Barnes and that there’s at least some level of mutual interest. Barnes is from North Carolina and his wife is a Tennessee alum. How much would it take to land Barnes? That’s a big question. He ranked 11th last season in compensation among NCAA basketball coaches.
Another candidate that has been mentioned multiple times is Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino. Tennessee flirted with Pitino last year and very well could do so again. He’s making over $1.2 million per season and has a $1.5 million buyout.
Given his relative inexperience (three years as a head coach) and less than overwhelming resume (43–28 overall record – .606, a losing conference record and zero NCAA Tournaments), he’s quite expensive. Frankly, he’s probably too expensive for his resume – something we heard from multiple sources last time around.
Louisiana Tech’s Michael White has also been connected with the Tennessee job in the past and is a name that is surfacing on several national lists. Several sources indicated yesterday that White isn’t interested this time around.
Chattanooga’s Will Wade, for what it’s worth, was the first name we heard from the Tennessee side of things right as Donnie Tyndall’s firing was becoming official. Many in the basketball world think he’ll be the next big thing – especially after his team wins the Southern Conference next season. He’s from Nashville and has the endorsements of Shaka Smart and Tommy Amaker. Though he’s only been a head coach for two seasons, don’t be surprised if he gets a serious look from Tennessee and a few other programs.
Murray State’s Steve Prohm is also a name we’ve heard more chatter about today. He’s bound to be a hot name for several vacancies – if we hear anything concrete on him in relation to Tennessee, we’ll obviously keep you posted.