They say pressure bursts pipes, and the pressure of below average results seemed to have Rodney Terry bursting out of the seams of mediocrity (at best) for greener pastures.
After three seasons in where Rodney Terry’s win percentage was among the worst in school history, and the worst overall winning percentage for a UTEP basketball head coach since 1946-52, Terry departs UTEP to re-join the Texas basketball program under new head coach Chris Beard as a top assistant.
Terry went 29-48 against D-1 opponents and only won five true road games, and never cracked double digit win totals in a season during C-USA play in his three years at UTEP.
Now UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter has a tall task in replacing a head coach to lead a basketball program that has not made the C-USA tournament championship game in over a decade.
But who does UTEP target, how do they go about repairing a program that has been beaten and bruised the past four seasons or so?
Multiple sources indicate Jim Senter would like to target a head coach who will stay for a good while and who will not use UTEP has a steppingstone, but the steppingstone approach maybe UTEP’s ticket to relevance again on the hard wood which makes this hiring process super important and interesting.
No information is available if UTEP will use a hiring firm or committee for this hire, but sources indicate there is already high interest from a few familiar candidates UTEP fans should know well.
Here are four head coaches UTEP should take a long, hard look at.
Jerome Tang – Baylor associate head coach
Tang is still celebrating Baylor’s national title win from Monday as the long time Baylor assistant should be UTEP’s #1 priority. Tang has been at Baylor for 18 years as an assistant to Scott Drew, including multiple NCAA tourney appearances, and five sweet 16 berths and of course yesterday’s national title. Before his lengthy and successful stint at Baylor he was a successful high school head coach in Cleveland, Texas in where he led Heritage Christian to four TAPPS state titles. With a national title on his resume now, there is no reason for UTEP to not have Tang at the top of their list, this would be a grand slam hire and should even energize the causal UTEP fan.
Joe Golding – Abilene Christian Head Coach
ACU might have had a hand in Rodney Terry leaving UTEP. If ACU doesn’t upset Texas this past March, does Shaka Smart leave for Marquette? Anyways, Golding and his ACU Wildcats were the darlings of the dance this past March with their incredible defensive showing against Texas. Golding has turned the former D-II Wildcats from a doormat to up-and-coming mid-major contender as ACU has compiled 20 wins or more in each season since the 2017-18 season. A proven program rebuilder, and community connector, Golding’s defensive style will be welcoming to UTEP fans and is also a solid JUCO recruiter who could turn things around quicker with a new culture/style and some impact JUCO recruits.
Chris Jans – NMSU Head Coach
Jans has won 88 games in three full seasons at NMSU and went 5-5 in a tough COVID affected season in 2020-21. With a high number of Aggies joining the transfer portal after NMSU’s recent season ended, could Jans be also looking for an out as well? This past season was filled with political drama regarding how the Aggies could get through the 2020-21 season with COVID restrictions in the state of New Mexico starting the season in Arizona in a bubble like setting and ending the regular season playing games at an El Paso High School. Could all the COVID drama of this past season have Jans looking east to El Paso? Jans would immediately upgrade UTEP’s talent instantly and is known as being a player’s coach. Jans would also bring a bully-attitude style of play which will be fun to watch with the right roster pieces.
Tony Barbee – Kentucky assistant coach
Yes, UTEP needs to reach out to Barbee. Barbee will bring a coaching staff with Power 5 experienced assistant coaches and will bring in some legit players to get things restarted at UTEP and I think things will come together quickly under Barbee. Sources indicate Barbee is interested in coming back to El Paso, the question is will Jim Senter give him a call? We all know the exciting offensive style he will bring, but the big question is will Jim Senter reach out or leave Barbee alone. This would a safe hire with a positive result.
Other notable candidates to keep any eye on, Kimani Young (UCONN associate head coach/former UTEP player), Ross Hodge (North Texas associate head coach), Marvin Meznies (Former NMSU/UNLV head coach)
Story by Alex Nicolas