Ohio State is an awesome basketball job.
And Rick Barnes is worth his $2.4 million salary.
I'll explain why in my weekly Five for the Weekend column.
1. You mentioned Ohio State as one of the nation's elite jobs in your column about Jamie Dixon. Why?
|Rick Barnes is an easy punching bag, but don't forget the program he has built. (US Presswire)|
Just look at the Buckeyes' roster.
The top three returning players -- Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Aaron Craft -- are all from Ohio, and the state produces high-major talent on a regular basis. Meantime, Indianapolis -- home of former OSU stars Greg Oden and Mike Conley -- is only about 175 miles away. So it's possible to recruit within a 200-mile radius of campus at Ohio State and produce Final Four-caliber teams year after year after year. That -- combined with all the other things previously mentioned -- makes Ohio State one of the nation's most desirable jobs. It could reasonably be ranked in the top five and cannot reasonably be ranked outside of the top 10.
2. So what's America's best basketball job?
3. Were lawmakers right to criticize Rick Barnes' $200,000 raise at Texas?
Considering none of the raise is the product of tax dollars, I would say no. But Barnes is coming off a disappointing loss in the Round of 32, marking the third consecutive season he has failed to survive the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament, and that's the real issue here. If Barnes were a month removed from a Final Four or flirting with another job, nobody would say a word about a $200,000 raise that gets his salary to $2.4 million annually. But he's not and he's not. So here we are.
4. So you think Barnes deserved the raise?
I don't know that he "deserved it," per se, but I certainly don't view it as that big of a deal. Again, it's not tax money; it's money from the Texas athletic department, which has more money than it knows how to spend. Yes, I recognize Barnes not making it out of the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament in any of the past three years is disappointing, but I think it's important to note what UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds told reporters this week: "Before Rick Barnes arrived at Texas, we weren't a top national basketball program," Dodds said. "We are now."
Barnes has become an easy punching bag the past few years but there's no denying he has built a monster of a program. He has led Texas to 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments, finished in the top three of the Big 12 in 10 of his 13 seasons, consistently recruited at a high level despite assistants coming and going, made three Elite Eights and a Final Four. Does Barnes have flaws? Of course. But -- and I never get tired of reminding people of this -- from 2001 to 2005 there was another high-profile coach who was bounced from the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament each and every season. His name was Billy Donovan. He spent 2006 and 2007 winning national championships.
5. Are you saying Barnes has national titles coming?
Not necessarily, no. All I'm saying is that if you consistently recruit well and consistently put yourself in the NCAA tournament you'll almost certainly break through and shut people up, eventually. And what I'm also saying is that I believe judging coaches based on a single-elimination three-week tournament instead of a four-month season is a little silly. And what I'm also saying is that if Barnes ever let it be known that he's willing to move, he would have plenty of schools doing everything possible to find $2.4 million a year to give him.
That's something frustrated UT fans probably ought to remember.
There's a chance you could hire a better coach than Barnes if your job opened.
But the odds of that coach being as consistently good as Barnes would probably be pretty low.