Shaka Smart’s Longhorn Void Won’t Be Filled by Chris Beard
Shaka Smart was the head coach of the Texas Longhorns for six seasons, going to the NCAA Tournament three times and going 0-3 in those tournaments. He did, however, win an NIT Championship in 2019. So that was cool.
Smart was nearly fired in 2018, but he made the tournament. In 2019, rumors swirled about his firing but he made a run in the NIT and saved his job. In 2020, the pandemic and a late-season run kept Shaka in Austin. Now, finally, the Longhorns broke through in Austin and had his best regular season so far in his career at Texas, and then ACU beat them in the NCAA tournament and it all came crashing down as the three seed fell to the plucky 14 seed.
The ironic bit here is that Shaka Smart made a name for himself as being the plucky underdog while at VCU getting to a Final Four and five straight NCAA tournaments while at the mid-major.
Maybe that mid-major chip on Smart's shoulder was calling his heart because before the Longhorns could fire him he took a job at Marquette University.
The reports have been confirmed now and Texas is looking for a new head coach.
Obviously, the Austin and National media were all over the Chris Beard to Austin storyline. I wrote about this weeks ago when the Indiana job opened up. Even the great University of Texas cannot money whip Beard into a job coaching the Longhorns. Yes, I'm aware Beard is an alumnus of UT. He spent a decade with Knight in Lubbock at coaching school, so in my opinion, he's also a Red Raider alum.
At this point in our Texas Tech basketball journey with Chris Beard we've hit a crossroads, is there a job offer out there that offers Chris Beard a better opportunity to win the NCAA Tournament? In my opinion, Beard can get it done in Lubbock. Could he get it done more efficiently in Austin? Or Bloomington? That's for Chris Beard to decide.
Bottom line, if Beard leaves Texas Tech for Austin, it's because he thinks there is a better opportunity to win National Championships in Austin. That's all Chris Beard cares about. He doesn't care about Whataburger or Taco Villa. He wants to win. Yes, Beard has values and family ties but he's made enough money in the last several years to see his family from anywhere in the country.
Again, if Beard does leave, it's because he's decided that it's easier to win a National Championship somewhere else. To me, that doesn't sound like the Chris Beard I've seen in Lubbock in the last five seasons.
A Brief History of Texas Tech Men's Basketball in the NCAA Tournament