The once-mighty Texas football program is 13-15 in Big 12 play the past three-plus seasons and has dropped its last two games to rival Oklahoma by an average of 40 points apiece. The historically formidable Texas baseball program staggered to a 7-17 Big 12 record last season and missed the NCAA tournament for a second year in a row.
As a result, it cannot be a good sign for Rick Barnes that his athletic director apparently is most concerned about the direction of the basketball program these days.
"If I were going to pick one [program] to worry more about, I worry more about basketball," Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told SI.com this week.
"I can’t put my finger on it or pinpoint exactly, but we’re not getting Texas kids. We’ve had a lot of kids come into the program that are pretty good players that have left, not to go to the NBA."
The recent announcement that Dodds will soon retire raises the question how much his view of the basketball program matters if he's not the one who will ultimately decided Barnes' fate after the 2013-14 season. Nonetheless, it's a reflection of the slippage Texas basketball has endured the past few years.
Whereas criticism of Barnes was once that his teams were underachieving relative to the immense talent on the roster, now the Texas coach isn't even winning or recruiting close to the level he once did. The Longhorns haven't advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since 2008 and didn't come close to making the field last season, struggling through a 16-18 campaign instead.
Complaints have grown louder this offseason since the four leading scorers from a team that struggled to put up points last season have all left with eligibility remaining. Point guard Myck Kabongo entered the NBA draft despite missing the first 23 games of last season due to NCAA eligibility issues, forward Ioannis Papapetrou accepted a contract offer from a Greek pro team and promising wings Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis announced during the spring they would transfer.
The roster turnover wouldn't be quite so disastrous were Barnes recruiting at the level he once did, but Texas repeatedly has failed to even get into contention for top in-state kids the past few years. As CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish noted in August when Emmanuel Mudiay chose SMU, Barnes has landed just one of the 21 top-40 national prospects from Texas -- forward Cameron Ridley in 2012.
With recruiting in a rut, players leaving in droves and Texas slipping further behind Big 12 basketball powers Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor, it's no surprise Dodds is concerned about the future of Longhorns basketball. It's up to Barnes to try to find some way of showing whoever his new athletic director will be that he's still the right man to get the program back on track.