Most of the focus on the Forty Acres of late surrounds the coaching search for the Texas basketball program to replace now former head coach Shaka Smart. Although he sat on one of the hotter seats in the entire country entering what will be a long offseason, Smart wound up getting hired to become the next Marquette Golden Eagles head coach before Texas athletic director Chris del Conte could do anything about buying him out.
Smart and the Longhorns had a very disappointing finish to an otherwise promising 2020-21 campaign. Texas wound up winning their first Big 12 Tournament crown in program history and had a mostly successful regular season where they spent most of the campaign ranked in the top 20 in both major polls.
It was an early exit in March Madness last weekend that caused Smart’s seat to get scorching hot heading into the offseason. The three-seed Texas wound up getting upset by head coach Joe Golding and the 14-seed Abilene Christian Wildcats in the Round of 64, by just a one-point margin, back on March 20.
It took less than one full week for Smart to find another head coaching gig after the upset loss to ACU. And with that came one of the more high-profile head coach job openings around the college hoops landscape still in the midst of March Madness.
One of the early names that is frequently getting brought up in the Texas head coaching search is the Texas Tech Red Raiders fifth-year head coach Chris Beard. The 2018-19 AP Coach of the Year and two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year was a clear option for the Longhorns to target in their coaching search from the get go.
Texas basketball pursuing Chris Beard to replace Shaka Smart
According to a report from Horns247 on March 27, Beard has emerged as the front runner for the Longhorns coaching search as they look to start interviewing candidates to replace Smart. Beard and the Red Raiders were a thorn in the side of Texas on the hardwood in the season that was for them.
And Beard has risen to the level where he has national respect and recognition for turning Texas Tech into a consistent contender. If Texas were able to hire him, it would make a huge splash across the entire college hoops landscape.
A few other common candidates mentioned in connection with the Texas coaching search include the former Louisville Cardinals head coach (currently with Iona) Rick Pitino, Oregon Ducks head coach Dana Altman, and Brooklyn Nets assistant Royal Ivey.
Texas might have to be patient with their head coaching search with the NCAA Tournament still playing out and the coaching landscape still working itself out. But it’s nice to see a good bit of promising candidates in line for a coaching search just one week after the early NCAA Tournament exit.
Beard and the Red Raiders finished up the 2020-21 season following their Round of 32 exit at the hands of the Arkansas Razorbacks with a record of 18-11. Meanwhile, Smart and the Longhorns rounded out the 2020-21 season with a record of 19-8 (11-6) following their Round of 64 loss on March 20 at the hands of ACU.