Texas hires Texas Tech's Chris Beard as men's basketball coach

Sam Cooper
·3 min read

When the Texas men’s basketball job came open, there was one question on the mind of many observers: Can Texas lure Chris Beard from Texas Tech?

Fast forward a week later and it has done just that.

Texas announced late Thursday afternoon Beard is indeed headed to Austin to become the next head coach of the Longhorns. 

"I'm thrilled and excited to be coming back to Austin and back to the Longhorn family," Beard said. "I can't express how excited I am for this opportunity and the journey that lies ahead."

Beard will replace Shaka Smart, who left UT to become the head coach at Marquette. Smart was a hot coaching candidate for years thanks to his success at VCU, but that same level of success never materialized at Texas.

Texas played in three NCAA men's tournaments over Smart’s six seasons, but did not win a single game in those three appearances. This season, Texas won the Big 12 tournament and was riding high into March Madness, only to be upset by No. 14 seed Abilene Christian in the first round.

Beard, on the other hand, has had plenty of NCAA men's tournament success. Over his five years at Texas Tech, Beard led the Red Raiders on two exciting tournament runs. In 2018, TTU went to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.

The next year, the Red Raiders advanced all the way to the national championship game, but fell to Virginia. This season, TTU won its first round game over Utah State but fell in the Round of 32 to Arkansas. Beard also coached a first-round upset back in 2016 when he was in his lone season at Arkansas Little Rock.

Texas, which has not advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2008, is hoping Beard will bring that postseason success with him.

"It's been a whirlwind of a day," Beard said. "It's a difficult and emotional day in a lot of ways as I leave Texas Tech, a place where I'm very appreciative of not only my five years as a head coach but also my 10 years as an assistant. I owe so much to Texas Tech University."

Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard signals to his team as they played against Arkansas in the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard signals to his team as it plays Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA men's tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Chris Beard’s long coaching journey

Beard actually began his coaching career with the Longhorns. He served as a graduate assistant at UT from 1991-95, beginning a long, winding coaching journey that eventually led back to Austin.

Over the years, Beard has been the head coach at schools like Fort Scott Community College, Seminole State College, McMurry and Angelo State. Little Rock was his first Division I head-coaching gig and that came in 2015.

Six years later, he is the head coach at the University of Texas. Talk about coming full circle.

More from Yahoo Sports: