City Sports Report

A case of good luck and bad luck for Rick Barnes and Donnie Tyndall

Rick Barnes is going from unemployed to employed really quickly (photo courtesy of www.40acressports.com)

The University of Tennessee was on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament one more time this season. If they would have done so, they would have made the tournament back-to-back years and under two different head coaches. Donnie Tyndall, who replaced Cuonzo Martin, came to Tennessee with the deck stacked against him. Martin left the University of Tennessee after a successful run in the NCAA Tournament when both sides could not agree to a contract extension. And who can blame Martin for leaving? He was not feeling wanted by the university and its fans anyway and it was the best move for him to make at the time. Tyndall took up the coaching job after the university did an extensive search and he was thought to be the answer. He had enough time to piece together a recruiting class to fill out the roster and was on the verge of bringing in reinforcements that could help build the program even more. But unfortunately, the program fell short of making the NCAA Tournament and more importantly, the dark clouds began to surface over Tyndall. The former Southern Mississippi coach was involved in an NCAA investigation and it did not look at all good for him. And as a result of that, the recruiting for next season was affected. Tyndall lost his best recruit, small forward Chris Clarke, during this entire fiasco early in the process as the NCAA moved in on Tyndall. Vols fans and Tyndall were hoping they could survive the noise and get the coveted Clarke back, but that all came crashing down after the season. Tyndall, amidst the sweltering heat of the NCAA, was forced to resign by the University of Tennessee as the details began to come out about what happened at the University Of Southern Mississippi. And just like the University of Tennessee was last offseason, they were in a bad situation.

While Tyndall was going through his battle with the NCAA, Texas coach Rick Barnes was going through his battles as well. The University of Texas became a very notable program under Barnes. He has brought in talent after talent over his 17 years and he also had the Longhorns in the NCAA Tournament 16 of those seasons. At any other university, his success would be appreciated and thought to be a great thing. But unfortunately, that was not the case at the University of Texas. As the teams began to get better, the expectations rose. And or a program that never won a title, the expectation was that Barnes would win one eventually, Well, it never happened and the university was not very happy with what he had done. Despite the winning record and consistency of making the NCAA Tournament, he was not thought to have done a good job there. Heading into this past season, he needed a better season in order to keep his job potentially. Instead of having that one season where he broke through, it seemed like the Longhorns stumbled into the NCAA Tournament. At times, it seemed like they were not together on the floor and that was not what Barnes nor Texas officials wanted to see. After a second round loss in the NCAA Tournament despite the talent he had, the Texas officials had enough of Barnes. And in a decision that shocked some, Barnes was let go by the University of Texas. He brought consistency to Texas, but he also brought raised expectations. And as a result, he was a victim of his own expectations.

Texas is now looking for a new head coach. But for Barnes, he is looking at a brand new job. The now former University of Texas head coach has been reached out to by the University of Tennessee about its head coaching job. And all indications are he will accept the offer from the university. The University of Tennessee has not had much success since Bruce Pearl was let go from the university due to his own NCAA issues. So for them, Texas letting go of Barnes was an incredibly great thing. And it is because of that, an unfortunate situation that happened for Tyndall now turns in to a great situation for the University of Tennessee to hire an upgrade in a coach. And for Tyndall, unfortunately things did not pan out the way he wanted them to. The former University of Tennessee head coach is now out of a job and there is no indication as to what his punishment will be moving forward. It could be entirely possible that he will be given a “show clause” for a number of years and that he will literally be untouchable by many programs. It a matter of a year, he goes from upgrading his position to now hoping for another chance to become a head coach in the future. It will be a long road back for him to get back into the lead position again. All that he had built up for and achieved, all washed away because of not following the rules at Southern Mississippi.

Crazily, the Vols were the beneficiary of good timing potentially this time. They needed a coach and many thought they would have to go with a coach that was still trying to prove himself. But instead, the Vols ended up with a guy that has consistently put his teams in the NCAA Tournament along with getting top notch talent. The success in the postseason could be better, but Barnes is far and away the best coach the Vols have had since Bruce Pearl. And hopefully when he is hired, he can help Tennessee get the talent it needs to compete in the SEC on a consistent basis while battling his own demons as an underachieving coach at times. We shall see what happens, but things are looking better for Tennessee despite the abruptness of Tyndall being let go.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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