Rumors and stories have been swirling all day that Tennessee and ex-Texas head coach Rick Barnes are close to reaching an agreement that would make Barnes the next head basketball coach at Tennessee. RTI has confirmed that Rick Barnes was the leader in Tennessee’s eyes as of today, but that other candidates were still awaiting an interview. With all that Tennessee basketball has endured in recent years, Barnes would make a lot of sense as a hire as a proven coach that could help stabilize the program and immediately use his national recruiting connections to bring in some talented athletes to Knoxville.
Nothing is finalized as of yet, but things appear to be moving quickly between Barnes and Tennessee’s administration – including some inside the athletic department believing that an agreement has already been reached.
Here’s the bio of Barnes from RTI’s Coaching Hot Board:
The Latest: Barnes makes a lot of sense on a variety of levels. He’s available and would instantly stabilize the program. One of the best recruiters in the nation, he’d quickly and drastically increase the talent level of the team and would have the best resume of a Tennessee basketball head coach by miles and miles. He signed an extension at Texas two years ago and was named Big 12 Coach of the Year last season – he just didn’t gel with the new president at Texas. He’s got a lot left in the tank and has definitely been in contact with Tennessee. In fact, we’ve heard that some people at Texas believe he’ll end up in Knoxville.
Pros: At Texas, Barnes has been to 16 NCAA Tournaments in 17 years and has won four conference coach of the year awards (1999, 2003, 2008, 2014). Prior to his time at Texas, he led Clemson to three NCAA Tournaments in four seasons and Providence to three NCAA Tournaments in six seasons. Overall he’s been to the Sweet 16 six times, the Elite 8 three times and the Final Four once. Barnes is an impressive 402–180 (.691) at Texas and has simply won everywhere he’s been. Barnes and Texas agree to part ways over the weekend and he wants to coach again soon.
Cons: He’s 60 years old and the perception around him, despite a coach of the year award last season, is that his Texas team is starting to slip a bit under his watch. He makes more than $2 million a season and, even if he doesn’t return to Texas, he probably wouldn’t come cheap.
Tennessee has offered the job to Rick Barnes, and the two sides are closing in on a deal, sources told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 30, 2015
**UPDATE** Gary Parrish of CBS is now reporting that Barnes and Tennessee are finalizing a deal.
Here’s an excerpt from his story:
“Tennessee has offered its opening to Rick Barnes and, barring a late snag in negotiations, the former Texas coach is expected to accept, a source told CBSSports.com.”
Sources have told @CBSSports that Rick Barnes is the priority at Tennessee. Just a matter of finalizing a deal.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 30, 2015