Texas made it official Thursday and fired coach Chris Beard nearly a month after he was arrested on a third-degree felony assault charge for allegedly strangling, biting and assaulting his fiancée inside their home.
Rodney Terry is the Longhorns' interim coach. He'll finish the season.
If you were handicapping this thing, you'd have to make Terry the favorite to land the job on a full-time basis largely because he's inherited an awesome team from Beard and will likely win big this year. Beyond that, Terry is well-liked and best equipped to hold things together. In a perfect world, he'll keep the job.
Still, Texas is one of the more desirable jobs in college basketball -- arguably a top-10 job at that -- which could lead to a nationwide search. The following is a list of coaches UT could consider.
Texas coaching candidates
Rodney Terry, Texas interim coach: Any sensible list of candidates has to start with Terry for reasons already stated. He was raised just south of Houston and on Rick Barnes' staff at Texas from 2002 to 2011 before spending 10 years as the coach at Fresno State and UTEP. He's familiar with his surroundings and knows what winning at Texas looks like. Simply put, this is likely Terry's job to lose
John Calipari, Kentucky coach: All things being equal, there are few reasons for a men's basketball coach to leave Kentucky for Texas. However, the circumstances for Calipari at UK are no longer ideal because he A) is stuck on one national championship despite having immensely talented rosters nearly every year, B) hasn't been to the Final Four since 2015, C) turned in the worst season in modern school history two years ago, D) lost to Saint Peter's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March, and E) took a team ranked No. 1 at KenPom.com this preseason and started 2-4 in the first two quadrants with zero wins over top-40 KenPom teams.
UK fans are frustrated and restless. A close friend of Calipari's told me last summer that Calipari should've taken the UCLA job after Steve Alford was fired in 2019 because "this thing at Kentucky has run its course." I understand the sentiment. So Calipari bouncing to Texas after this season -- especially if he doesn't meet expectations -- for a fresh start with a new fanbase and set of expectations would make some sense from a quality-of-life perspective, especially considering UT has the type of resources that would allow it to match Kentucky dollar-for-dollar if it came to that.
Royal Ivey, Brooklyn Nets assistant: Ivey, a former Texas player, was endorsed for this job by former UT standout and current Nets star Kevin Durant after Shaka Smart left for Marquette in 2021. That alone makes him a candidate. Hiring somebody with zero experience working on a college campus for a job of this magnitude is always a risk for obvious reasons, but Ivey deserves consideration based on his background and reputation in the NBA.
Eric Musselman, Arkansas coach: Coaches don't often leave really good jobs when things are going as well as they are for Musselman at Arkansas -- but Texas is the type of job nearly anybody would have to consider. So a call to Musselman is worth making. Would he really leave for Texas? Not sure. But, as my friend and colleague Seth Davis pointed out earlier, where you live often matters to coaches and their families. Austin is a big and legitimately great American city that could (with all due respect) offer some things a college town in Arkansas cannot.
Chris Holtmann, Ohio State coach: The Ohio State job is comparable to the Texas job in that it's a great job at a school with unlimited resources. In a vacuum, this would be something close to a lateral move. But some OSU fans are eager to point out that Holtmann has made zero Sweet 16s in five years with the Buckeyes (even though he's won games in three of the past four NCAA Tournaments). If Ohio State gets bounced in the first or second round of the NCAA Tournament this season -- extending and and intensifying the narrative -- Holtmann could conceivably consider a move to Texas for more or less the same reasons Smart made a move from Texas two years ago.
Jerome Tang, Kansas State coach: Tang, who just spent 19 years working in Texas as Scott Drew's assistant at Baylor, is off to an awesome start in his first season at Kansas State. Granted, people don't usually change jobs after one season, but it does happen. If Tang continues to do well with the Wildcats, it's not hard to imagine the Longhorns looking his direction come March.
Interim coaches who do well sometimes land the job, and I'm assuming such will be the case at Texas. Terry is already 5-1 as the Longhorns' coach. His team is ranked 10th at KenPom.com and 13th in the NET. The Horns are talented, experienced and good. So I'm just going to assume Terry will keep winning throughout January, February and March and do enough to convince UT's administration to give him the job for good. It's undeniably the easiest thing to do -- and it might also be the smartest.