When Texas hired Chris Beard in April 2021, it was thought to be a home-run hire for the Longhorns. He was returning to Austin after graduating from Texas in 1995 and was even a manager for the team his senior year. Beard assembled a dream team of assistants and got to work, recruiting some of the top high school players in the country and landing key transfers in the portal like Timmy Allen, Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter.
This was the season everything was coming together on the court. The Longhorns pummeled Arkansas by 30 points in a exhibition game in October and one month into the season, Texas was the No. 2-ranked team in the country.
On Dec. 12, Beard was arrested on a third-degree felony domestic violence charge after an alleged altercation with his fiancée. The school announced on Thursday it was parting ways with Beard, citing "unacceptable behavior that makes him unfit to serve as head coach at our university."
The team has continued to play with associate head coach Rodney Terry, who will remain as the acting head coach. Terry has 10 years of head coach experience, previously at Fresno State and UTEP before joining Beard's staff in 2021. The Longhorns are currently 5-1 under Terry and are the No. 6 team in the nation. After a bad home loss to unranked Kansas State on Tuesday night, the Longhorns could fall out of the top 10.
The lingering question is: Where does Texas go from here?
Coaching candidates for Texas next season
Terry will finish the season, but there are already a handful of names being thrown around as possible replacements for Beard next season. Texas is a coveted job for most coaches with its location, access to football money and the new state-of-the-art, $375 million Moody Center that opened this season.
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman is in his fourth season and has already taken the Hogs to two Elite Eights. He recently signed a long-term extension, but could be persuaded to take a job in a bigger market.
Dennis Gates is in his first season at Missouri and has made a strong statement beating Kentucky and Illinois recently and returning the Tigers to the Top 25. He's one of the hottest names in college basketball right now.
Former Longhorn and current Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Royal Ivey played 10 years in the NBA and also has been an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks. He has close ties with the program and is one of the only former players favored to get an interview.
Terry also will be considered for the permanent head coaching position and already has existing relationships with players and staff.
How will it affect recruits?
On the recruiting side, Texas currently has two five-star commitments from 6-foot-8 power forward Ron Holland and 6-5 combo guard A.J. Johnson. Both players have recently shown support for Terry and the team. Johnson tweeted on Tuesday, "Loving what Coach Terry and my guys in Austin are getting done. Keep going! Can’t wait to get on the 40 Acres." Holland put out a similar tweet of support saying, "Been great to see Coach Terry and the guys keep getting it done down in Austin. I’m locked in!"
After Beard's firing, Holland's mother, Tarasha, said, "As of right now Ron remains committed to Longhorn Nation as we continue to closely monitor the circumstances surrounding the program."
Who the head coach is has a lot to do with a player's decision to commit to a university, especially a Power 5 program. Both Holland and Johnson will undoubtedly weigh their options and a decision to stay or leave Texas probably won't happen until the end of the season.
Before Johnson committed to Texas in late November, he had visited LSU and had strong interest from Kansas, Louisville, USC and Arizona State. Holland chose the Longhorns over Arkansas, Kentucky, Memphis and UCLA.
Terry is a great recruiter and was instrumental in bringing in previous top players the past two seasons. Texas will do everything it can to keep the commitments from the two five-star prospects, but it will be an uphill battle until a new head coach is named.
The Longhorns are off to a rocky start in the new year and have a tough schedule in the coming weeks in a very competitive Big 12 conference. If Terry can get the most out of the players to close out the season and make an NCAA tournament run, it will be a smooth transition for Texas on the court after an abrupt end to the Beard era.