Rick Barnes, UCLA Talk Appears to be ‘Serious’

Credit: UT Athletics

By Josh Ward | @Josh_Ward

Don’t take the report that Rick Barnes is a “serious candidate” at UCLA lightly.

The initial report came from Evan Daniels of 247Sports on Sunday night. Daniels, citing multiple sources, reported that Tennessee’s head coach is in play to potentially become the new head coach at UCLA.

The initial reaction from many people, including Tennessee fans, was that this story was likely something being pushed out there to help Barnes get another raise from Tennessee. Barnes received a new contract last fall, which bumped his salary to $3.25 million. That’s behind only Kentucky coach John Calipari in the SEC. (Buzz Williams’ new contract at Texas A&M will begin with a $3.8 million salary, knocking Barnes down to third in the league.)

Perhaps this will lead to another contract adjustment for Barnes. He already had an argument to make for a new contract before this report surfaced thanks to Tennessee’s strong season.

Barnes could also push for more money to be paid to his staff members.

The Vols have a vacancy on their staff following the departure of Rob Lanier, who accepted Georgia State’s head coaching position on Friday. Barnes would be wise to push for extra spending money in his pursuit of Lanier’s replacement.

But don’t dismiss the report linking Barnes and UCLA just because the idea of Barnes leaving for Los Angeles seems hard to believe.

Following the report from Daniels, Ben Bolch of the LA Times reported that Barnes interviewed for the job and is considered the frontrunner. (Bolch reported that Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger also interviewed for the job.) Bolch also noted that he was told Barnes “would definitely accept the UCLA job if formerly offered it.”

Then came this from Jeff Goodman:

Will Barnes leave Tennessee for UCLA? Well, I’d be surprised, but these reports tell me I shouldn’t be if he does.