The Texas Longhorns will reportedly host top coaching candidate Shaka Smart beginning on Thursday evening in a visit that could result in the VCU Rams head coach taking the job in Austin:
Multiple UT officials have confirmed that Texas athletic director Steve Patterson plans to fly to Richmond tomorrow to meet with Smart.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) April 2, 2015
Steve Patterson plans to bring Shaka Smart back to Austin on Thursday night and tour Austin and the campus on Friday.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) April 2, 2015
News broke earlier on Wednesday from Chip Brown of Horns Digest that Smart could travel to Texas as early as Thursday in an attempt to establish a comfort level with athletic director Steve Patterson and the Longhorns program. The news came out amid numerous other reports that Texas feels confident about closing the deal with the highly-successful head coach.
Smart visiting campus on starting on Thursday would also explain the "REALLY BIG GRIN" on Texas head football coach Charlie Strong's face when asked about Smart on Wednesday evening. But Strong isn't the only coach with a connection to Smart who could play a role in his decision:
Two men Smart will almost certainly speak with in Austin - current assistant Rob Lanier (coached with Smart at UF) & Charlie Strong.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) April 2, 2015
Lanier was the associate head coach for Rick Barnes from 2011 until Barnes was let go last weekend and could remain on staff if Smart takes the job due to their previous connection.
So it looks like Patterson will have a chance to put his people skills to work to finalize a deal with Smart that would energize the Texas fan base and provide the Texas program with a young coach who could conceivably keep the job for 20 or more years if he can find success.