Shaka Smart has led teams to the NCAA Tournament 7 of his 9 seasons as a head coach, but there's no denying he hasn't taken off the way many expected he would when he left VCU for Texas. A Longhorns' fan, who follows the program closely, sent me his assessment of what's gone down and wrong in Austin:
Rick Barnes left Smart a roster full of mediocre seniors & Smart did well with them. Once they graduated, he had to completely rebuild the roster.
Smart can recruit...period. Texas has signed almost all 4 star recruits with a few 5 star guys sprinkled in.
Things were looking good until 5-star stud guard Andrew Jones was diagnosed with Leukemia 2 years ago. Losing him was a blow.
Early NBA defections from 5 star centers Mo Bamba & Jarrett Allen hurt as well. Now he's lost late bloomer Jaxson Hayes who blew up & starred his 1st day on campus.
Smart's tenure at Texas has been up & down, but it's just taken a little time to procure roster stability. He didn't totally abandon the Havoc style of play. He still presses a lot, pushes tempo & Texas shoots ALOT of 3's...but the personnel hasn't quite clicked until that NIT run.
Contrary to what you will read, Smart does NOT have a 13 million dollar buyout for him to willingly leave for another job. If Texas fires him, then he's owed that guaranteed money; but if Shaka left for another job of equal or better status, then Texas would just release him & void the contract. Much like Michigan, Texas is a kinda final destination job & we've never written buyouts for other teams to lure our coaches away...we just either money whip them to keep'em or fire them to get rid them.
Smart hasn't been a great fit at Texas, & the Texas AD would probably let Shaka move on to satisfy both parties. Texas is a football school first, and sadly 90% of our fans don't give a hoot about basketball.