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A Fool's Errand: You're Right About Rick

Hey, I have a novel idea: let's argue about Barnes

That's like, your opinion, man.
That's like, your opinion, man.
Jamie Squire

Between winning Big 12 Coach of the Year & Steve Patterson announcing his support for the embattled coach, Rick Barnes has engineered an impressive turnaround for the program & done what nearly everyone in Texas not named Candy Barnes thought was impossible: he survived this season as the head coach for the Texas Longhorns. This news filtered across the Longhorn fanbase and is being received by the UT faithful with varying levels of ambivalence. While most are happy the program is heading in the right direction and nearly everyone is happy that last season seems more like an aberration than a trend, the arguments about Rick Barnes are heating up again. It's March, and the only thing more dependable than Austinites bitching about SXSW is The Rick Barnes Argument. Most people's opinion of Rick Barnes as a coach falls into one of two camps.

Camp A: Rick Barnes is the most successful coach in the history of the men's basketball program; Barnes' teams play tough defense, rebound the ball well, and block shots. Despite the last couple of years he has brought Texas basketball to a level unseen in the history of Texas, and is responsible for bringing the program to more Final Fours & Elite Eights than any coach since DKR was a quarterback at OU. 2 of the 4 best players to ever wear burnt orange came to Texas because of Rick Barnes. While last year was a disappointment, it was an aberration & Texas is getting back to where it should be: dancing in March.

Camp A is right.

Camp B: Rick Barnes is a step below the top tier of coaches, like Coach K & Bill Self. Rick's teams are mediocre offensively and he has a spotty history in March; he will probably never win a title despite his recruiting prowess, and he's not recruiting as well as he used to. Texas will probably never overtake Kansas with Rick Barnes as head coach, and The University of By-God Texas shouldn't be second fiddle to anyone. The next Texas team to peak in March will be the first one.

Camp B is right.

This is the dichotomy of Rick Barnes. Barnes has had a level of success at Texas heretofore unseen in Austin & is responsible for resurrecting a program that Tom Penders treated like the Costa Concordia, and his run from 2001-2008 was on par with any of the elite programs in NCAA basketball. However, he hasn't reached that level of success since Barack Obama was a state senator and Barnes is unlikely to break through to the Elite Eight this year, either. The last time a Rick Barnes team made it to the second weekend of the NCAAs, Jonathan Holmes had a learner's permit & Jay-Z hadn't put a ring on it yet. It's been awhile. This is also why both sides are so deeply entrenched in their beliefs about Rick Barnes, because the dichotomy is housed within a single human. It's also why one of the few things more predictable than Rick Barnes' coaching tactics is the argument about Rick Barnes that starts up in mid-February every year. Reading the discussions about Texas basketball is like living in my own personal Groundhog Day, to the point I can go to nearly any Texas forum & write the posts for the people participating in it.


This likely isn't going to change any time soon unless Barnes either reaches another Final Four or has another season like 2012-2013. Or if he dies, I guess. I'm not laying money on which of those 3 happens first. Right now, I just want Mommy & Daddy to stop yelling. Perhaps we can advance the discussion by coming up with a list of things about Rick Barnes that everybody can agree upon. I'll start with a few that should cover both sides of the argument.

Rick Barnes Truths:

  1. Nobody's going to confuse Rick Barnes with Coach K.
  2. Nobody's going to confuse Rick Barnes with Travis Ford, either.
  3. Having a coach that's one step below the likes of Coach K, Bill Self can be frustrating.
  4. That still puts him about 3 steps above an average coach & 4 steps above Scott Drew.
  5. Seriously, Scott Drew can eat a bag of penises.
  6. Like, a BIG bag of penises.
  7. I'm talking the size of the Twinkie Egon described in 'Ghostbusters'.
  8. Rick Barnes will choke the life out of a team if his guys don't buy into his system.
  9. The teams that do buy in have great mental toughness & disciplined play.
  10. Rick Barnes needs an exceptional point guard to maximize the team's success.
  11. Most coaches need an exceptional point guard to maximize the team's success.
  12. Rick Barnes' offensive schemes are...'lacking'.
  13. Rick Barnes' defensive schemes are not.
  14. Rick Barnes' teams are terrible free throw shooters.
  15. Yea well, you're ugly.

Feel free to add some in the comments below, let's get them all out on the table so we can move forward & find new ground to discuss.