The University of Texas has begun its search for the next head coach of the men's basketball team after Shaka Smart left the program to accept the head coaching job at Marquette University.
And that search, a high-placed source told LonghornsCountry.com, is focused on Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, with an "active pursuit'' occurring on Friday.
With Smart moving on to his home state of Wisconsin, Texas must now look to find a suitable replacement, that can continue the high tradition of Longhorn basketball, and can also improve on Smart's shortcomings.
Beard, a former UT student, is the target. He's who the school began actively and aggressively pursuing as soon as Smart's fate was sealed.
In the event that Beard elects to stay at Tech, a place he has coached in one form or another for over 15 years, however, there is a growing list of impressive candidates for the Longhorns to consider. We've got our list below, which includes some of the names being suggested by Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman. Bohls' list as "the most likely candidates ... Chris Beard, Dana Altman, John Beilein and Royal Ivey at this point.''
We believe there is reason to interview those candidates - just in case, despite Beard topping the wish list.
Among that wishlist is a list of impressive Power Five candidates, including Oregon's Dana Altman, and the fast-rising Brad Underwood at Illinois, who just led his Fighting Illini to one of its best seasons in school history.
Below is a brief list of a few candidates the Horns could consider to replace Smart, including Texas Tech's leading man, who again, has the inside track on the position. ... but no "done deal'' just yet. (Oh, that John Calipari rumor? We cover it here.)
Chris Beard - Texas Tech
The odds on favorite to land the job, Chris Beard is one of the most desirable head coaches in the country. He has led Texas Tech to three NCAA Tournaments in four seasons, reached a final four and a national championship game, and has a record of 112-55. Beard's buyout for the Horns would be no less than $4 million according to reports, but this is Texas, and they will move mountains to land Beard in burnt orange.
Eric Musselman - Arkansas
A fast riser over the last few seasons, Musselman has led Arkansas to two 20-win seasons in his first two seasons and has the No. 3 seed Razorbacks moving into the Sweet 16 to face Oral Roberts. He has extensive experience at both the college and the NBA Level as well, making him an ideal candidate for the job.
Brad Underwood - Illinois
Coming off of one of the best seasons in school History, Illinois head coach Brad Underwood has garnered some serious buzz around the country. Underwood led the Illini to a 24-7 record and a Big 10 Tournament championship in 2021 but was unceremoniously bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the Round of 32 by Porter Moser's Loyola Chicago. He has coached in both Texas (Stephen F. Austin) and in the Big 12 (Oklahoma State) previously, so would be familiar with the landscape. Could he bring the brand of toughness that the program needs to take the next step?
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Porter Moser - Loyola Chicago
Like Musselman, Porter Moser had Loyola Chicago on the verge on an elite eight birth, with the No. 8 seed Ramblers favored in their Sweet 16 matchup with No. 12 seed Oregon State. Moser has been with Loyola Chicago since 2011, leading the program on a miracle run to the Final Four in 2018, and is 99-35 overall over the last four seasons. But will Moser leave Loyola?
Royal Ivey - Brooklyn Nets
A former Texas Longhorn fan favorite, Ivey is unique in that he doesn't hold any previous head coaching experience. He became an assistant in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016, before moving on to the Knicks in 2018. After two years in New York, Ivey was hired by Steve Nash and the Brooklyn Nets in November of 2020, where he has been ever since. Ivey reportedly interviewed with the Longhorns for the job over the weekend.
Dana Altman - Oregon
One of the top names in the coaching industry at the moment, Dana Altman took the Oregon Ducks on a great run through the tournament to the Sweet 16, where his team eventually fell to conference rival USC. Altman has been with Oregon since the 2010-11 season, and has led the Ducks to the NCAA tournament in eight out of his 10 seasons. Altman had the Ducks at 24-7 last season, before the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Altman also spent 16 years at Creighton, where he took the Bluejays to the tournament seven times. He has a 690–352, and has been successful at every stop.
Another name that has been mentioned in regards to the Texas Vacancy is that of former Michigan Wolverines and Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein, who was one of the best college basketball coaches in the country before an ill-fated move to the NBA. Beilein led the Wolverines to nine NCAA Tournaments and two national title games but was unable to win in either appearance. He finished his time at Michigan with a 278–150 record, two regular-season Big 10 titles and two Big 10 Tournament championships.
Joe Golding - Abilene Christian
The man who sealed Shaka Smart's fate, Golding could very well be the next man to replace Smart in Austin as well. Golding's experience is not as extensive as some other names on the list, but he has landed Abilene Christian in the tournament in two out of the last three seasons, which is two more appearances than they had ever had in school history.
Rick Pitino - Iona
The most well-known name on the list, Rick Pitino, is also the most infamous name on the list. In his first season at Iona, Pitino got the Gaels to the NCAA tournament -- the 22nd time he has led a team to the big dance in his career. He is also a two-time national champion. The biggest question for the Longhorns here though is whether or not they can trust a man with his infamous record of scandal, with the keys to their program.
Grant McCasland - North Texas
McCasland has made a name for himself this season by leading the North Texas Mean Green to their first-ever NCAA Tournament win, defeating the No. 4 seed Purdue Boilermakers 78-69 last Friday. McCasland also has experience coaching in the Big 12, where he was an assistant under Scott Drew at Baylor from 2011-2016, before moving on to Arkansas State to take over as head coach. McCasland is 78-51 overall at North Texas.
Russell Springmann - Oral Roberts
A longtime assistant with the Longhorns, Springmann once helped Texas land its biggest recruit in school history -- Kevin Durant. Springmann spent 17 years at Texas under Rick Barnes and is currently an assistant at Oral Roberts, where the Owls are set to face Arkansas in the Sweet 16.
Who do you think is the best candidate to replace Smart? Comment and join in on the discussion below!