Rodney Terry proves he deserves to be Texas head coach permanently

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte is used to making big, bold decisions.

While in the same position at TCU, he hopped in his car one day amid the chaos of the conference realignment to get out and sit in front of Longhorns AD Deloss Dodds’ desk for several hours. The two eventually went out for a meal during which Del Conte convinced Dodds that the Horned Frogs would be a perfect fit for the Big 12 (an official invite followed shortly after).

In one of his first big acts when he took over at Austin, Del Conte showed the door to Tom Herman as football coach after a top 20 and bowl win to end the season, quickly setting up Steve Sarkisian. A few months later, the athletic director was at the forefront of helping the UT engineer’s shock departure to the SEC.

In the wake of second-seeded Texas, which edged past No. 10 Penn State 71-66 on Saturday night, however, it might be time for Del Conte to make his boldest move yet and finally – and officially — to retire that acting label. head coach the title of Rodney Terry and make his tenure a permanent one in the state capitol.

“Texas are back where we need to be,” a jubilant but measured Terry told the show afterwards, trying to speak loud enough to overcome the cheers of all the players on the team showering him with joy. ‘love.

It was an emotional moment for all in burnt orange. Not only the result of a brave battle after losing their eight-point half-time lead to hold off the Nittany Lions late, but because it rightfully shed light on the coach who has been the players’ rock for much of the past turbulent months. since former coach Chris Beard was fired after his arrest in early December in a domestic violence incident.

It was only fitting that it was Terry who was finally at the center of the Texas moment, celebrating the team’s first Sweet 16 trip in 15 years. A native of Angleton (outside Houston, the site of this year’s Final Four) who played college ball just down the road from the Moody Center at Division II St. Edwards, he was one of the main assistants to Rick Barnes last time UT made it to the second weekend, earning a reputation as a terrific scout by bringing Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, Tristan Thompson and others to the 40 Acres.

“I’m used to the Sweet 16 in Texas, to be honest with you,” said Terry, who was also a head coach at Fresno State and UTEP. “I’m not bragging, but when I was here before, we were kind of in the Sweet 16.”

Now in his second stint with the program in 11 years, Terry is finally drawing attention to not just who’s on the roster, but also how they’re playing on the court – once again pulling all the right levers as the Texas won its sixth in a row. .

The typical case came with a timeout taken with 4:42 left, snapping a 10-0 run by Penn State in which they overran UT in four misses from the field and a handful of turnovers.

But the break proved to be just what the Longhorns needed, prompting an immediate layup that sparked a run to reclaim a lead they never relinquished as Texas made their six shots up at the final buzzer.

Perhaps Terry’s message in the huddle was simple: get it to Dylan Disu.

The Pflugerville elder (via Vanderbilt) was by far the best player on the field, notching a program-record 14 goals scored in an NCAA Tournament game to surpass Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge and finish with 28 points. and 10 rebounds.

That effort helped push Texas to a remarkable 8-0 under its interim head coach in games decided by five points or less – a statistic all the more remarkable given that the last one came in a game where he survived 11 straight misses beyond the front arc. Sir ‘Jabari Rice finally made it home Texas’ made just 3 points on the night with 8:32 to go.

Whatever the school brass end up deciding to do with Terry, the run he had with the Longhorns could still end up being one of the best in recent memory for anyone aspiring to land one of the best jobs in the country. . The team beat Kansas twice in a week before cutting the Big 12 tournament nets and will head straight back to Kansas City after two big wins in the cold Des Moines coincided with also seeing bitter rival Texas A&M suffer an early exit from the Big Dance. THURSDAY.

UT will now advance to play either a Pitt team that started its run in the top four as one of the last teams on the field, or the same Xavier team that needed a little luck to escape the upset bid mounted by Kennesaw State on Friday. If Texas progressed from there, a trip to the Final Four would come up against either a stoned Houston in the Elite Eight or equally flawed Miami and Indiana.

A manageable path to say the least, especially for a group that has the talent to make it to the ultimate basketball prize not far from where Terry grew up.

If the Longhorns can end up making the trip down Highway 290 to NRG Stadium, Texas might as well write the contract or risk a fan uprising.

In that case, Del Conte would be happy to trade off a race of magic hoops for what would previously have been characterized as an unimaginative hire – just as it would hurt the AD not to land a big fish after many much speculation that high profile candidates like Kentucky’s John Calipari were among those on the administration’s shortlist.

After all, it’s not daring to hire a coach whose career high is just above the .500 mark. But after what Terry proved with a brave group of players in March, this might just be the right thing to do for a Texas program that looks set to go on and take the decision out of its hands.

Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has covered college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets including NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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