A Warning to Those Still Championing Chris Beard as Arkansas’ Next Great Basketball Coach

A Texas diehard rings the alarm for Razorback Nation

Chris Beard, Arkansas basketball coach, next Arkansas basketball coach

It appears, based on Friday reports, that Chris Beard is staying at Ole Miss and will not be the next Arkansas basketball coach.

This has angered many Razorback fans to the point where they are calling for their athletics director to be fired. Whether the new head Hog coach ends up being now-presumed frontrunner Jerome Tang from Kansas State or someone else, there will be much angst over the fact Arkansas missed out on Beard again.

Many will feel no one else could do as good of a job. I’m here to tell you that’s not at all the case. This is actually the best thing for you, Arkansas. So please, let me explain why.

The Non-Basketball Case Against Hiring Chris Beard

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the assault by strangulation allegations against Chris Beard – not because it’s unimportant, but because you probably already know plenty about it. For the uninitiated, the short version is that his fiancée called 9-1-1 at 2 a.m., alleging he strangled and bit her, and the evidence was enough that the police were willing to arrest and charge him with a felony. 

The charges were later dropped. I won’t wade into the fraught territory of talking about how often domestic violence charges are dropped by district attorneys and how often abused partners later come to the defense of their abusers, but I would suggest you read the details in the police report before dismissing the situation:

Texas felt like the fiasco was enough to merit firing the guy who had it a missed free throw away from a No. 1 ranking the weekend before the arrest, and Beard’s lawyer threatened a wrongful termination lawsuit that mysteriously has never materialized. The whole situation was gross.

What I will talk about is Beard’s history of not giving a damn about his players having the same domestic violence issues. I’ve written about it on this site before as it relates to Arterio Morris, who has since been charged with felony rape for an entirely different assault than the one he was dealing with at the time he was at Texas.

When I initially learned about Morris’ issues and saw Beard essentially hide behind an investigation by the campus’ Title IX office as a way to avoid publicly commenting on Morris, I started digging into his past at Texas Tech and found at least two players Beard recruited who had a history of domestic violence issues. Beard either covered for them or actively recruited them to Texas Tech after their issues became known. 

Deshawn Corprew was ultimately suspended after an actual Title IX investigation was started and the university forced his hand, but that’s the extent of his efforts to address any of the problems. This isn’t counting his former player Terrence Shannon’s sexual assault allegations at Illinois, by the way.

Chris Beard simply doesn’t care about what his players do off the court as long as they perform on the court. He’s basketball Art Briles, and some of you are thinking of hiring the guy. How could this possibly end badly?

The Basketball Case Against Hiring Chris Beard

I don’t know how much Chris Beard basketball you’ve watched, but it’s probably not as much as I have on account of my very specific burnt-orange, Big 12 affliction. His brand of basketball is not generally enjoyable to watch – you know how Eric Musselman and Mike Anderson and even John effing Pelphrey ran up and down the court? Beard’s teams don’t do that.

His last Texas team was the first time in his DI coaching career that the team was in the top 200 nationally in adjusted tempo. He’s not Tony Bennett slow, but Arkansas will be a much slower team if you hire Chris Beard. “But he’s a great defensive coach,” you might say, and historically, that is true.

That being said, his defenses worked best when secondary defenders would slide under shooters and draw a metric ton of charges, and the change to the block/charge call last summer has mostly neutered that strategy. In fact, per Ken Pomeroy, no coach’s ability to generate turnovers was hurt as much by this change as Chris Beard.

It’s probably not a coincidence that his Ole Miss team was by far the worst defensive unit he’s had as a DI coach. By hiring Chris Beard, you’re likely getting a slower team that isn’t locking down offenses like the ones you recall from his peak Tech years. Does that sound fun?

Also, and I cannot emphasize this enough, your non-conference scheduling will be terrible. Beard has put together some of the worst schedules I’ve ever seen, so unless you just love watching Arkansas play half the SWAC every winter, that’s not great for season ticket holders. Hope you enjoy that 66-42 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, everybody.

Respect for Arkansas Basketball

Finally, I am going to do a thing that makes me doubt the existence of an afterlife: I am going to speak positively of Arkansas basketball.

Arkansas is-

*stares into the sun*

Arkansas is a good-

It’s okay, I can do this…

Arkansas is a good job.

Sorry, I just threw up a little bit.

You have history, you have NIL money and you’re in one of the best conferences in college basketball. It is a desirable gig for most coaches in the country, and most non-Musselman coaches will stick around for years unless a blue blood comes calling.

In short, you have options. You don’t have to hire a dude with the amount of baggage Chris Beard is currently dragging around Oxford. There are other really good coaches out there who can be poached.

Sean Miller took Arizona to three Elite Eights and a Sweet Sixteen in five years, and he got bounced for violating rules that no longer apply in an NIL world. (If anything, being able to reliably get cash to players is a plus these days!) He’s at Xavier and is gettable, and you don’t have to sit around wondering whether or not he’s going to show up on the news in prison stripes.

Also, not for nothing, but how many times do you want to have to hear about the assault charges? How many times do you want to hear chants from opposing student sections? How many times do you want to see photos of him in handcuffs?

Because it’s going to be a thing with every opposing fan base for as long as you employ him, especially from Texas fans – the least favorite fan base for many of you, and for good reason – who are coming to the SEC this fall and are, uhh, not exactly on great terms with him.

Plus, in the back of your head, you’re probably wondering if he’s going to get arrested for hitting his partner again. (It’s very rarely the first time they’ve hit someone when they get arrested for it.) And this is if he wins enough. Imagine investing millions in this guy, dealing with all the extraneous bullsh*t hiring him entails, and he ends up telling y’all he’s rejecting the NIT offer to be a 4-seed again.

Dealing with this for a few months even when Texas was doing the ‘right’ thing was exhausting, dealing with it for years sounds alternately maddening and deflating, especially for a basketball program that has other options. You’re not Ole Miss and shopping at the thrift store because the best coaches won’t return your calls. You can do better than this guy.

The Case For Hiring Chris Beard

If Chris Beard had actually come to Arkansas, pairing that jerk with the program that repeatedly smothered the dreams of the Runnin’ Horns would have allowed me to fully hate your school in a way I haven’t since Strollin’ Nolan. Just in time for Texas to join the SEC, a long-dead blood feud would have been reignited with an inferno tall enough to singe God’s sandals. So there’s that, I guess.

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More on Chris Beard and candidates for the next Arkansas basketball coach candidates here:

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