Today, Marquette introduced Shaka Smart as their next Men’s Head Basketball Coach. Smart, who surprised the college basketball world, left Texas after their first round tournament loss to Abilene Christian. He was 109-86 at Texas.
— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) March 29, 2021
Last week, we all were surprised that Shaka Smart was leaving Texas to take the Marquette job. Smart was at Texas for six season. He made the NCAA Tournament three times (2015-16, 2017-18, 2020-21) and won his first and only Big-12 Championship with the Longhorns this season. But, he did post a winning record 5/6 seasons at Texas.
Smart taking the Marquette job seemed weird at first. At Texas, he didn’t really have any expectations. First and foremost, Texas is a football school and it doesn’t matter how bad that football team is either. Smart did his absolute best at Texas and made the basketball team relevant. I generally like Smart as a coach too. I think what he did at VCU and leading them pretty deep in the tournament on a consistent basis is great for the game. It makes all the sense for him to take the Marquette job. He was born and raised in Wisconsin, he can build a program back, and he gets to play in the Big East. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t the same Big East, it is still the Big East. But the big thing why they hired him is to get Marquette back on track to winning.
Shaka Smart is a basketball coach. It is pointless to coach at a school that simply doesn’t care about basketball. Smart took over for Rick Barnes in 2015-16 and Barnes was the head coach from 1998-2015. Between these two, Texas only made it out of the second round five times. Their highest was the Final Four in 2002-03. This is not a basketball school! I’m not saying Marquette has been any better but that is a school that is dominated by the basketball program.
With that said, the first name that became rumored was Texas Tech’s Chris Beard. I love Chris Beard as a coach. With that being said, I do not want to see him die at Texas. Texas basketball and football are slowly, if not already, becoming coaching graveyards. You go there with the illusion that you will win a championship and then you get fired and question why you even got into coaching. Texas football killed Charlie Strong, Tom Herman, and soon enough will take poor Steve Sarkisian behind the shed. Basketball isn’t any better. Smart is a good coach, Beard is a great one. But the gap between these two isn’t that big.
Chris Beard would be an upgrade from Smart, but not by much. It won’t be enough to elevate Texas from a football school to a basketball one. So with that being said, it would be stupid for Beard to leave Texas Tech.