One of the more interesting head coaching candidates that the Texas basketball program could pursue to replace the recently departed Shaka Smart looks to be a legendary head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. Current Kentucky and former Memphis Tigers head coach John Calipari could be one of the candidates on Texas’ radar at this point in time.
Back on March 26, the news dropped that Smart would bolt from the Longhorns hoops program to become the next head coach with the Marquette Golden Eagles out in the Big East. Smart would replace the now former Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who was let go from his post a little less than two weeks ago.
Texas saw their now former head coach Smart get put on the hot seat entering the offseason following a tough early exit in the Round of 64 back on March 20. More than one week ago, Smart and the three-seed Longhorns fell short at the hands of the 14-seed Abilene Christian and upset-minded head coach Joe Golding by just a one-point margin.
That loss to ACU two weekends ago pushed Smart’s postseason record during his six years as Texas head coach to 0-3. And those three losses are anything but admirable, coming to a seven, 11, and 14-seed in the “Big Dance”.
However, the focus is now shifting to how the Texas men’s hoops program can get better from here on out. Texas athletic director Chris del Conte now has the big looming task of finding a replacement for his men’s basketball head coach after already replacing the head coaches for the football program back in January, and women’s basketball last offseason.
Possibility of Texas basketball pursuing John Calipari
The very idea that the Longhorns could go after Calipari to become their next head coach is a really intriguing one for fans on the Forty Acres. Multiple voices in the media are discussing the idea of Calipari, after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign with a young Kentucky team, getting tossed a ton of money by Texas if he truly wants a change of scenery.
And a piece from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on March 26 hinted at the idea of the Longhorns pursuing Calipari with Smart now taking the job with Marquette. That piece also hinted at the proposition that the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Houston Cougars should be nervous about Texas going after their head coaches this offseason.
The very idea of pursuing Calipari could bring some excitement, but also false hope, for the Longhorns. He doesn’t seem like too realistic of a candidate for Texas at this point in time. Just one bad season at Kentucky likely won’t lure away the 2012 National Champion, four-time SEC Coach of the Year, and three-time Naismith Coach of the Year.
The Longhorns also already had to spend upward of $15 million to buyout their former head football coach Tom Herman within the last three months. Spending more money to have to toss the kitchen sink at Calipari might be out of the question by now.
Texas wound up finishing up the 2020-21 season with a record of 19-8 (11-6 Big 12), following their Round of 64 loss to ACU back on March 20. A mostly successful regular season and a Big 12 Tournament title for the first time in program history still amounted to disappointment and a coaching search heading into the offseason.