Rick Barnes explains why he stayed at Tennessee instead of taking UCLA job

USATSI

If a college coach flirts with another job but ultimately stays put, a typical explanation for doing so usually toes the company line. Maybe it's because they've got roots in the town they're coaching in. Or, perhaps, they love the culture they've created at their program. Why would they leave such a good situation? 

After all, college coaches not only have to deal with PR from such an instance from fans and boosters, but also from prospective recruits who see everything discussed on social media in 2019.

So when Tennessee coach Rick Barnes flirted with UCLA in a public way in recent weeks before the Bruins hired Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, one would expect Barnes, as one does, to toe said company line. Coach-speak the flirtation, downplay it, talk up the Vols and his excitement for the future in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Nope!

One of the first mentions on the topic in a meeting with the media on Tuesday was about UCLA and Barnes said the biggest reason he remained at Tennessee was... his buyout.

Another, more pointed question, elicited a much more to-the-point response about how his talks with UCLA went:

Now let's be fair: Barnes sprinkled in all the coach-speak in between his enlightening discussion. 

"I'm in love with this community," he said. 

But still yet, Barnes openly talking about how torn he was on whether to stay at Tennessee or to take the UCLA job isn't something you see from college coaches in a public forum often, either.

Good on Barnes, though. College coaches get crushed for saying thousands of words but not really saying anything of substance. It's refreshing to see one like Barnes keep it real, and it humanizes him on a level that people can actually relate to. Sure, he's getting paid millions, which is pretty dissimilar to, say, an accounting job. But on some level, aren't we all just working a job? He struggled on whether to leave a top-25 job for a top-10 job -- to leave a good job for a potentially great (historically awesome) job. Can you blame him?

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