A laundry list of in-state recruiting misses, early departures (both by transfer and NBA Draft declaration), eligibility issues, injuries and, whether you believe it to be a function of bad luck or not, a 5-12 record in games decided by five points or less over the last two seasons, have pushed Texas head coach Rick Barnes to a crossroads in his career. None of this is breaking news, of course; If the lack of depth, continuity and results leave the Longhorns’ brass no choice but to move on from Barnes, the writing will have been on the wall for months, if not years. But after recounting where things have gone off track for the Big 12’s longest-tenured coach, it’s time to look at the immediate future and see if there are enough opportunities on Texas’ 2013-14 schedule for Barnes to buy himself another season in Austin.
For the purpose of this experiment, we aren’t nearly as concerned with predicting exact wins and losses and breaking down the specific match-ups as we are with taking a bird’s-eye view of the schedule and looking at the dates Barnes will be circling in varying shades of red. Let’s get going.
- 11/8 vs. Mercer
- 11/12 vs. South Alabama
- 11/15 vs. Stephen F. Austin
- 11/18 vs. Houston Baptist
- 11/25 vs. BYU (CBE Classic)
- 11/26 vs. DePaul/Wichita State (CBE Classic)
- 11/29 vs. Texas-Arlington
First things first: Wins against South Alabama, Stephen F. Austin, Houston Baptist and Texas-Arlington are absolutely essential, and everyone can agree. The Longhorns open against Atlantic Sun favorites Mercer, and while a loss to the Bears would be a thorn in Barnes’ side, it wouldn’t be the embarrassment that more casual fans may believe. A victory over BYU on a neutral court in Kansas City, while also not earth-shattering, would be a highlight on a prospective NCAA tournament resume. If the Longhorns match up against DePaul the following evening, a win there will be a necessity – not just because the Blue Demons won’t be a factor in the Big East race, but because the meeting will have likely been foretold by a loss to the Cougars the previous night. Longhorn fans would be wise to pull for the Shockers, as a Wichita State win, coupled with a Texas win, would give UT a crack at a 2013 Final Four participant.