Byrd plans to be at Belmont for the remainder of his career

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 11:13pm

Rick Byrd doesn’t plan on changing jobs — ever again.

Now that his alma mater, Tennessee, has filled its men’s basketball coach opening with the hiring of Cuonzo Martin, the 57-year-old Byrd plans to ride out his coaching career at Belmont.

“I think I’m done,” Byrd said about pursuing other jobs. “As long as Belmont will have me and as long as I want to coach, this is where I will be. I think that is kind of a period of your life. I don’t know if there is a drop-dead rate where you start a new job or an age, but for me I think I’ve reached the point where I am going to finish my career coaching Belmont. And I’m lucky to do it.”

Byrd just wrapped up his 25th season as Belmont’s men’s basketball coach as he guided the Bruins to their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in six years.

His career record is 610-333 in 30 years, two at Maryville College and three at Lincoln Memorial. He has 518 victories at Belmont, which makes him one of five active coaches with more than 500 victories at the same school.

Byrd’s success at the 5,000-plus-student university out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, including a 30-5 record and 19-1 conference mark in 2010-11, reportedly was enough for Tennessee to contact him.

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Byrd interviewed for the Vols’ vacancy.

Byrd would not confirm or deny the report when reached on Saturday, a day before UT announced the hiring of Martin, who has been Missouri State’s coach for the last three years. Byrd, a Knoxville native, was in Indianapolis over the weekend watching Belmont signee Spencer Turner lead Bloomington South to its second Class 4A state championship in three years.

Likewise, he would not say if he would have taken the Tennessee job if offered.

“You never know the answer. That is an easy cop-out but you never know the answer until it is a reality,” Byrd said. “You make those decisions when they get there. I have said a bunch of times, at least for me — I don’t know about other people — that it is a gut feeling more than an intellectual choice.

"... You are really lucky when you find a job that I enjoy as much as I do and have with the one at Belmont. Some guys have to have a job and they really want a job and they don’t like the one they are in. They agonize over these things. I haven’t spent any time with any anxiety about any jobs because of the one that I have.”

5 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 3/29/11 at 3:40

Rick Byrd may have aspired to the UT job for very obvious reasons to most of us. Knoxville and UT were part of his heritage at one time. His heritage for now and the rest of his life is in Nashville at Belmont University. When he retires his name will always be a part of the athletic heritage of Belmont.

By: BigPapa on 3/29/11 at 7:58

He would have been canon fodder, just coaching for the pay check. I dont think that's his motovation. The new guy is getting paid to be a place holder while they work through the NCAA issues. Then they'll hire a "real" coach.

By: bruingeek on 3/29/11 at 8:31

You might think from reading this article that Rick Byrd's best days are behind him. This is no "has-been" coach and his program still has places to go and big boys to beat (assuming that they a brave enough to schedule the Byrd-coached Bruins). It is UT's loss and Belmont's gain to have Rick Byrd for years to come. Go Bruins!

By: Dore4Life on 3/30/11 at 4:03

Naw, Coach Byrd doesn't need to leave Belmont and he certainly doesn't need UTK in order to satisfy his ego or anything.

As for BigPapa's comment: I don't understand what "real" means exactly. Are you saying once UTK has Martin get them through the NCAA sanctions timeframe , they'll hire a coach who will throw ethics and the rules back out the window again in favor of getting kids who are an embarrassment to the university off the court? Goodness, I hope not. The only things the media seems to report about UTK nowadays are the negative aspects of the men's basketball and football programs. Most UTK alums I know are sick and tired of this fact and ready to see postive representation of their university again.

By: Dore4Life on 3/30/11 at 4:09

If Martin isn't a "real" coach and is only a "placeholder" intended to get UTK through the NCAA sanctions timeframe, why didn't they get hire me to do the job instead? I guarantee I can get UTK men's basketball through this timeframe just as easy, and I'll work for a one time payment of $250,000.