Yesterday, ESPN broke the news that Shaka Smart would be leaving VCU to fill the coaching vacany at Texas. This is a great move for Shaka as he will be coaching in the Big 12 at one of the richest schools in college basketball.
Shaka’s Texas Offer
Ever since VCU’s final four run in 2011, power conference schools have been trying to lure Shaka away from Richmond and every year has decided to stay with the Rams. As recent as December he spoke with Gary Parrish about how abandonment issues with his father have affected his decision making. Leaving his players, who looked up to him like a father, was not a choice he was willing to take lightly.
However, it seems like something happened this season that changed his mind. Perhaps it was two season in a row of a first round loss in the NCAA Tournament. Just like Texas, which hasn’t seen a first round win since 2008, Shaka is looking to make another final four run and he probably thinks that the chances of that happening in the Atlantic 10 are low.
We can only assume that he will also see a significant pay increase. At VCU, Shaka is making $1.57 million per year, while the previous coach at Texas was paid $2.5 million. It’s hard to say no to an offer like that. Hell, I’d probably move to North Korea and take a job as Kim Jong Un’s food taster for a quarter of that.
What Does this mean for the Atlantic 10?
For starters, it means losing one of college basketball’s best coaches. Since joining the Altantic 10, the Rams have consistently been one of the league’s top dogs and it was all thanks to Shaka. I don’t think VCU will be able to replicate that success without him.
Secondly, it means losing top recruits that would have otherwise played for VCU. Case in point is the news that Shaka already offered a scholarship at Texas to Bruce Brown, who was recruited by him at VCU and also by Coach Kellogg.
Shaka Smart’s 1st scholarship offer as Texas coach went to 2016 wing Bruce Brown (@BruceBrown11) of Vermont Academy.
— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) April 3, 2015
Thus far there has been no news about who will replace Smart at VCU. Some have speculated that his current assistant Jeremy Ballard, former assistant and now head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga Will Wade or Mike Rhoades of Rice are on the short list for the job (source). If either Ballard or Wade get the job, we may see “Havoc” remain in the Atlantic 10 after all.