Everything’s not only bigger in Texas, it’s also Strong and Smart.
The Longhorns consummated their courting of VCU coach Shaka Smart, grabbing the rising basketball guru away from the Atlantic-10 squad he’d been building since 2009.
Smart joins Texas head football coach Charlie Strong in perhaps the first and currently the only African-American, football-basketball head coaching duo at a major Division One school. Strong took over the Longhorns football program last year from Mack Brown, who resigned in 2013, and made waves by ridding the team of several scholarship players he thought no longer fit. The ‘Horns finished the 2014 season 6-7, with a 5-4 record in the Big 12.
Smart is a wildly popular coach leaving a VCU program that he built into a power, but which lost to Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament last week. He has won nearly 75 percent of his games since becoming the Rams’ head coach and has a 7-5 record in March Madness games. In 2011, he took the Rams to the Final Four and has been a hot prospect in coaching searches at bigger programs ever since. But until now, he’d remained loyal to the program that gave him his first head coaching opportunity, having turned down UCLA, Marquette, Wake Forest and others. But when a major university like Texas comes calling, you have to pick up the phone. In this case, when they come all the way to Virginia to get you, you have to follow.
No details are available about Smart’s deal with Texas but it’s a safe bet they’ll pay him handsomely; Smart was coaching under a $1.57 million-per-year deal at VCU.