Rick Barnes

Texas head coach Rick Barnes instructs his team against Butler during the first half of an NCAA tournament game Thursday in Pittsburgh.

Gene J. Puskar | AP

Rick Barnes’ career at Texas is dead. 

It died Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center after the Longhorns delivered another disappointing showing in the NCAA Tournament.

Ironically, like in so many murder mystery novels, the culprit responsible for putting an end to Barnes’ tenure was a Butler.

While nothing is official and Texas athletic director Steve Patterson is currently not willing to discuss the matter, make no mistake, Barnes is a dead man walking.

Despite having one of the most talented rosters in the country, the Longhorns underwhelmed all season long with the 56-48 first-round loss to the Bulldogs simply being the culmination of a steady decline.

Texas has failed to get past the first weekend of the Tournament in each of the past seven years. Think about that for a second.

The last time the Longhorns made a deep run was 2008, when they won the Big 12 championship before reaching the Elite Eight with a roster highlighted by D.J. Augustin, who was awarded the prestigious Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award, A.J. Abrams, Damion James, Gary Johnson, Justin Mason and Dexter Pittman.

I remember it well because I was covering the team as a beat reporter for The Daily Texan — the University of Texas’ student newspaper.

During my time, I got to know Barnes to a degree. Obviously, I was a small fish, but he always took the time to stay after press conferences and speak with me or any other reporter, exceeding his mandatory time requirements.

He was, and I’m sure still is, a very likeable person, but history has shown us only results matter at Texas.

The once-beloved Mack Brown was sent packing after he began failing to deliver on the gridiron, and he gave the school a national championship.

Longhorns fans do not live in the past, though, and once they turned on him, it was merely a matter of time until his head rolled.

The same scenario is now playing out on the basketball court.

Like Brown, Barnes has lost the ability to motivate, and the product he puts on the floor is lackluster despite being overrun with talented playmakers.

Now, Texas will lose forward Jonathan Holmes to graduation and possibly see freshman forward Myles Turner and sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor jump to the NBA.

With the potentially massive turnover looming, there is no better time than the present to make a change at the top. The fan base is clamoring for it, and the program desperately needs a breath of fresh air.

There are plenty of coaches out there capable of reviving the program, and while it could take some time to actually do so, the growing pains associated with the revival could not be any more excruciating than wallowing in mediocrity.

Barnes’ future with the Longhorns is currently on life support, but there is a “Do Not Resuscitate” sign clearly hanging above the bed, and if Patterson has any intentions of making the program respectable once again, there will soon be a “Help Wanted” ad in the newspaper.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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