With all the news surrounding the absolute incompetency of the UCLA athletic department to come up with a viable candidate and actually hire him or her, it looks like there has been a new potential development.
According to Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, it looks like Tennessee’s Rick Barnes has emerged as the newest favorite horse in the race.
And it’s not bogus.
Latest I've heard is that Rick Barnes and Lon Kruger have been interviewed for the UCLA job, with Barnes considered the frontrunner. He's 64, two years younger than Kruger, and is coming off a national-coach-of-the-season at Tennessee.— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) April 8, 2019
To take it a step further, Bolch also states:
I have been told that Rick Barnes would definitely accept the UCLA job if formally offered it.— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) April 8, 2019
Speculation is all over Twitter about contract details, whether or not he has accepted, and even about possible extensions with Tennessee. But one thing is certain, he has definitely interviewed with the UCLA Bruins and he’s interested.
Now, Barnes could be a step in the right direction. Tennessee went 31-6 last year and 2019 was only the second time in program history that they put together over 30 wins. Barnes took them to the Sweet Sixteen and, while they were upset by Purdue, Barnes sti ll brought home the Naismith Trophy Coach of the Year:
Of course, Barnes is no John Calipari, but might be a better move than Jamie Dixon. Barnes has proven himself as a righter of down programs, as Tennessee was 15-19 in his first season, but more than doubled their wins and ended up as a two-seed in the Big Dance this year.
On top of that, Barnes spent 17 seasons at Texas where he took the Longhorns to two Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights and one Final Four. Prior to that, he spent four years at Clemson where he took the Tigers to the Sweet 16 once.
Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger is another name that Bolch mentions which has come up today, but Barnes looks to be the new favorite.
So here we are, Day 98, possibly hiring the Naismith Trophy Coach of the Year.
Will UCLA finally land an accomplished coach like Barnes? Or will the athletic department whiff again? We’ll have to wait and see.