Coach of the Year

As head coach for the Texas Men’s Basketball program, Rick Barnes has led two teams to the Elite Eight and one to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. Although his team has not made it past the round of 32 since 2008, his record of excellence proves his worth at the helm of the basketball program.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

This season, Rick Barnes proved why he is the most decorated basketball coach to pass through Texas, earning his fourth Big 12 Coach of the Year honor since arriving in Austin in 1998. But once again, his team failed to survive the first weekend of the NCAA tournament —  a sight that has become all too common in recent years.  

Of course, Barnes has made several notable runs in the tournament during his time at Texas. None have been more memorable than when he guided the Longhorns to the Final Four in 2002, kick-starting a five-year span in which Texas also reached the Sweet 16 in 2004 and the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2008.

Since then, his teams have had little to show for their postseason efforts, failing to advance beyond the Round of 32 in their past six appearances. This includes first-round exits in 2010 and 2012, as well as last year’s debacle that saw the Longhorns miss the tournament altogether for the first time in Barnes’ tenure here.

Considering the high quality of talent he has brought in over the years, one has to wonder what the reason is for these postseason failures. As time has passed and the disappointments have mounted, many have asserted that Barnes’ game plans lack the offensive strategies necessary for the must-score possessions that surface at crucial points in tournament games. Others claim his teams have a propensity to struggle in crunch time.

Some of this carries weight. Take a look at Texas’ final possession in last week’s game against Arizona State, for instance. With the game tied and just over 16 seconds left to play, Barnes had the ideal situation to run a play and find an open shot. But instead, the Longhorns did nothing of the sort, as Jonathan Holmes forced an ugly 3-pointer while his teammates stood idly. Fortunately for the Longhorns, it was saved by Cameron Ridley who was there for the game-winning put-back, but the play lacked any real structure.  

To call Barnes a choke artist is a stretch, though. After all, he has led two teams to the Elite Eight and another to the Final Four. In fact, he would have another Final Four under his belt had the Longhorns not fallen to Glen “Big Baby” Davis and LSU in overtime in 2006’s Elite Eight. To have that kind of success in the NCAA tournament, in which every game is pressure-packed, is proof he can coach in big games.

Nonetheless, Barnes needs to put together a stronger effort next March. With his entire team returning, the Longhorns will be expected to make substantial strides and attain the postseason success they’ve lacked these past six years. 

For the fourth time in his career, Texas head coach Rick Barnes has been named the Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Barnes, who also earned the award in 1999, 2003, and 2008, now ties Kansas coach Bill Self for the most Coach of the Year accolades in Big 12 history.

He led his team to a 22-9 overall record and 11-7 mark in league play after finishing 16-18 last season. Barnes now faces West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament while awaiting their place in the NCAA Tournament, which is set to begin March 18th. 

Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder walks onto the field during warm-ups before a game against Baylor on Saturday, Nov. 17, in Waco, Texas.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Bill Snyder has been a thorn in the side of the Longhorns during his career as head coach at Kansas State, both during his current tenure (2009-) and his previous era (1989-2005) in Manhattan.

Snyder has a 4-2 record against the Longhorns with Kansas State holding a 7-5 overall series advantage. The Wildcats are the only conference foe who have a winning record against Texas.

Snyder, now 73, led the Wildcats to their only Big 12 Conference title, a 35-7 victory over Oklahoma, in 2003. He narrowly missed two other titles, one in 1998, a three-point loss in double overtime to Texas A&M, and one in 2000, another three point loss to top-ranked Oklahoma.

With a win over Texas, the Wildcats will clinch their second Big 12 title and Snyder will almost certainly win the Big 12 Coach of the Year award. Snyder already has three Big 12 COY awards, 1998, 2002 and 2011.

In addition, as a coach for the Wildcats when they were a member of the Big 8 conference, Snyder was Coach of the Year three times in 1990, 1991 and 1993. He was a Walter Camp Coach of the Year in 1998, a Woody Hayes Coach of the Year in 2011 and a Paul “Bear” Bryant Award winner in 1998.

When Snyder first arrived in Manhattan, Kan., in 1989, the football program was not in good shape. In its history, Kansas State had a 299-510 record, easily the worst record in Division 1 college football at the time. The school had only four winning seasons during the 45 years prior to Snyder’s hiring and were in the midst of a 27-game losing streak.

At his original retirement in 2005, Snyder had taken Sports Illustrated’s “Worst Program in the Country” and built an impressive program. As a parting gift, Kansas State University renamed its football stadium the Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium.

During his first tenure, Snyder went 136-68-1 with one Big 12 title. In 1998, the Wildcats went 11-0 in the regular season rising to their first ever No. 1 ranking. Snyder was considered to be the most prolific coach in college football at the time thanks to the impressive rebuilding he was able to do.

After a few down years, Snyder retired in 2005 and was replaced by Ron Prince, then the offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia.

Prince went 17-20 in three seasons — with two wins over Texas in the span — and in 2009 Snyder was back, becoming one of the only coaches to coach at the same institution for two separate terms and one of the only coaches to coach at a stadium bearing his namesake.

Printed on Friday, November 30, 2012 as: Bill Snyder revitalizes KSU, brings program into spotlight