As the college basketball season comes to a close, coaching positions are bound to open up. It is rare for a ‘blueblood’ job to open up, but UCLA is currently in hot pursuit for their next head coach. Rick Barnes looks to be atop of the list after falling short on John Calipari.
According to a report from Chris Low of ESPN, Rick Barnes will choose between staying at Tennessee or taking the UCLA job.
UCLA began aggressively pursuing Barnes last week with a package that would pay him $5 million a year, not counting bonuses and incentives. Barnes was named Naismith Coach of the Year on Sunday and met with Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer later that evening. They had additional conversations on Monday, including some correspondence with interim university president Randy Boyd, about a new deal at UT, sources said.
Barnes led Tennessee to a #1 ranking this season, re-booting the whole program. UCLA is currently in a funk lately, finishing a modest 17-16 this season. But, UCLA is always a hot spot for recruiting, as they have landed a 5-star prospect each of the last three seasons.
For Barnes, rebuilding a program like UCLA could be faster and bigger than the Tennessee rebuild. Currently, UCLA is in the PAC-12 conference which has been very weak in recent memory. Teams like Washington, Oregon and others have had good seasons but have not taken the control of the conference.
UCLA is in the position where they could salvage all control of the PAC-12 within a short period of time. To compare, it did not take long for Calipari to reboot Kentucky and Chris Mack turned Louisville around within two years. Rick Barnes has been touted for his eye for talent and building programs. At the end of the day, Barnes and UCLA could be a perfect marriage for the resurgence.