Rick Barnes spurns UCLA, opts to stay on as Tennessee coach

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
Rick Barnes would have been an odd fit for UCLA, but a fit nonetheless. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Rick Barnes would have been an odd fit for UCLA, but a fit nonetheless. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The UCLA basketball coaching search is reportedly moving to the next name on its list. Again.

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes has decided to stay with the Volunteers after negotiating a significant raise, Chris Low of ESPN reports.

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Tennessee confirmed the news on Twitter an hour later with a rather interesting video.

Barnes had reportedly emerged as a “serious candidate” to be the next UCLA basketball coach on Sunday, and it was reported by The Athletic’s Seth Davis on Monday that UCLA believed that Barnes was indeed headed west. Instead, UCLA will try to find its fourth choice in its coaching search.

UCLA’s coaching search rolls on

First to emerge in UCLA’s search was Kentucky coach John Calipari, who reportedly received a $48 million offer from the Bruins, but then opted to stay in Lexington after receiving a lifetime contract extension. Then there was TCU coach Jamie Dixon, who seemed set to join UCLA until the program proved unwilling to pay his $8 million contract buyout.

Barnes emerged on Sunday, a week after Tennessee’s season ended in the Sweet 16. Behind stars Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, the Volunteers registered one of the best seasons in school history at 31-6. That was Barnes’ fourth year in Knoxville, where he has seen steady improvement since a 15-19 season to begin his tenure.

An older coach at 64 who has reached the Final Four once in his 32 years as a Division-I head coach, Barnes represented a solid-but-not-flashy option for UCLA. At the very least, he at least seemed inclined to say yes, until familiarity and a pay raise won out.

Where does UCLA go from here?

If there’s a betting favorite to be the next UCLA basketball coach, it’s Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. The 47-year-old has positioned the Bearcats as a perennial NCAA tournament team and has been widely linked to the open UCLA position.

Of course, UCLA might think it can do better. Whatever happens, be it Cronin being hired or someone else, it’s very clear that this coaching search has not going according to plan for the Bruins.

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