There is a certain synergy surrounding the hiring of Rodney Terry to be the 26th head coach for the Texas men’s basketball team – a move that’s been four months in the making for the athletic administration and follows a career of working toward the goal for the uber-likable former Longhorns’ assistant.
“I was always one of those guys that was aspiring to want to be an elite, high-major coach – that was my goal,” Terry said Tuesday. “And man, I’m getting a chance to live that out right down here at the University of Texas.”
As we have all heard over the past 48 hours, Terry has Austin roots aplenty. He played his college basketball and coached at St. Edward’s University and spent two seasons as an assistant under venerable Bowie High School coach Celester Collier.
Terry came “home” to Austin after stints as an assistant at Baylor and UNC-Wilmington to work on former Texas coach Rick Barnes’ staff for nine seasons beginning in 2002. He left to become was head coach at Fresno State from 2011-18 and Texas-El Paso from 2018-21 before answering the call to join then-coach Chris Beard’s team of successful assistants in 2021.
“I’ve prepared my whole life for this opportunity,” Terry said. “You know, 27 years as a Division 1 basketball coach and 32 years of coaching including five years at the high school level – I’m a proud, former high school basketball coach in the state of Texas.”
And now, after 30 games (22 of them wins) as first the acting and then the interim coach for the Longhorns in the wake of Beard’s suspension and eventual firing, Terry is Texas’ main man.
“Thank you to Coach Terry for making this decision easy,” University of Texas president Jay Hartzell said. “You had a very long job interview, and I would say you nailed it, and you won with class dignity and grace. The family spirit, the culture of this team and the way they rallied behind their coach, their leader, got us here today, and we’re proud to be here. We look forward to the future.”
Terry, it seems, was always destined to be back in Austin in some capacity.
“Back in COVID, I ended up buying a house because I love this city and I love this community,” Terry said. “I knew no matter where my journey took me, one day I wanted to continue to be here. But again, you know, God has the master plan. We think we know where we’re supposed to be but he puts you right where you’re supposed to be.”
As head coach and unquestioned leader of a Texas program that just finished its most successful season since 2008 and was minutes away from its first spot in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four in 20 years, Terry can cement his own legacy.
“We’re gonna celebrate what this team did this season,” Terry said. “As we get back to work and start building on that momentum that we established this season, we’re gonna continue to put a great product on the floor, one that’s going to make you proud both on and off the court and represent this community and university the right way, in a first class manner. We set a high bar for ourselves.
“We’re gonna be a Monday night program, and we’re gonna get there sooner than you think.”