Chris Beard put together one of the most impressive coaching jobs in recent memory two years ago, leading Texas Tech—typically a Big 12 basketball afterthought—to the national championship game. Today, he became the new head coach of Texas basketball, taking over at his alma mater.
Beard replaces Shaka Smart, whose six years in Austin were as rocky as it gets. He reached three NCAA Tournaments, including this year as a promising 3-seed, but lost in the Round of 64 each time. He took the job at Marquette shortly after the Longhorns’ loss to Abilene Christian in this year’s NCAA Tournament, an indication that he probably didn’t think his job was overly safe.
Meanwhile, Beard took Texas Tech to the tournament for a third straight year (not counting the canceled 2020 postseason). After trips to the Elite Eight and national title game, the Red Raiders fell in the Round of 32, but Tech continued a strong upwards trajectory. Losing Beard to a Big 12 rival is a tough blow.
Athletic director Kirby Hocutt is clearly not thrilled with how things have played out. He says that Beard told him today that he was heading to Texas, and gave “no opportunity” for a counter-offer from Tech to keep him.
Hocutt: "(Beard) shared with me today he was ready for another challenge. I don’t totally understand it." Said there was "no opportunity" for Tech to even counter-offer Texas' proposal.
— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) April 1, 2021
You can’t blame Texas Tech for their efforts to hold on to their coach. Chris Beard was making over $5 million per year at Tech, and was the fourth-highest paid head coach as of this season, per USA Today.
Texas will probably give him a nice raise, as there are few schools with more resources than UT-Austin, but at the end of the day it sounds like he really wanted to take over the Longhorns. It is certainly difficult to pass on becoming the head coach of your alma mater, especially at a school like Texas.
Shaka Smart built up a talented roster, though the transfer market can wreak havoc on programs undergoing coaching changes. Beard only needed two years to take Texas Tech to the Elite Eight though, after being hired following an impressive 30-5 season at Arkansas-Little Rock. We’ll see if he’s the one to finally realize the incredible potential within the Longhorns basketball program.