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Tennessee Basketball: Rick Barnes extension all about stability

Rick Barnes is easily the most overpaid head coach in men’s college basketball, and Tennessee Basketball keeps extending his contract. For the second straight year, Danny White and the Vols extended his deal one season, according to reports.

After leading the Vols to the Sweet 16, Barnes’ contract remains at five years. That part makes sense for a guy who consistently has UT in the NCAA Tournament. However, he has an average salary of $5.88 million during that time.

According to USA TODAY, Barnes is the fourth highest paid coach in the sport. Ahead of him are Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari, Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self and Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo.

All three of them have at least one national championship and multiple Final Four appearances. Barnes, meanwhile, has one Final Four appearance, over 20 years ago, no titles, and has never taken Tennessee Basketball past the Sweet 16. In eight years, he’s made five NCAA Tournaments and lost to a lower seed each time.

Why, then, is he getting this extension? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. White knows enough history to see that the Vols need stability in this sport. Men’s basketball has been the most volatile sport for Tennessee on the coaching trail since it basically pressured Don DeVoe to leave in the 1980s.

Already, Barnes is the program’s longest tenured coach since DeVoe. Between the two, the Vols had seven different head coaches. Two were fired due to NCAA violations (Bruce Pearl and Donnie Tyndall. One resigned despite four straight 20-plus win seasons on the heels of massive clashes with the fans (Jerry Green).

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Honestly, it’s been nothing but a circus for this program when it comes to hiring coaches. Whatever you think of Barnes and the potential of the Vols, it’s clear he at least is that key mark of stability that they need. Let’s be fair too. The success has been there, more so than any coach other than Pearl.

As a result, why risk anything else. Things can get much worse when you run off a good coach, and Tennessee Basketball has a good coach. A proven product combined with the history of the program is why Barnes can get paid the way he is despite his limited success.

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