When it comes to football schools as hoops contenders, few can match what Rick Barnes has done with Texas. Behind a host of NBA lottery picks, UT has truly become one of college sports' dual threats on the hardwood and the gridiron.
But it took more than just Barnes' recent success to establish the Longhorns as No. 21 among the greatest college basketball programs.
The Horns have more wins (1,563) than hoops schools like Louisville and Cincinnati and have won at a higher rate (.626) than N.C. State and Marquette. They've logged 26 NCAA tournament appearances and 25 regular-season conference titles, both just behind Arkansas, the 'Horns' longtime nemesis in the SWC.
In fact, given Texas' recent success (228 wins since 2000, 6th best among D-I schools) and Barnes' propensity to recruit NBA lottery-type talent, it seems like just a matter of time before it accomplishes the one thing that's eluded it thus far: winning an NCAA crown.
Consider the top players that have rolled through Austin recently:
D.J. Augustin, a 2008 All-American point guard and likely lottery pick, who guided the 'Horns to a remarkable season in the post-Kevin Durant era.
Kevin Durant, the 2007 consensus player of the year, No. 2 overall pick and regarded as a "once in a lifetime talent," and perhaps the best freshman the game's ever seen.
LaMarcus Aldridge, the No. 2 overall pick in 2006 and already an excellent pro.
P.J. Tucker, the 2006 Big 12 player of the year and second-team All-American.
Chris Mihm, a 2000 consensus All-American, No. 7 overall pick and the center of Barnes' fast start in Texas.
Only UConn, North Carolina and Duke have produced more lottery picks since 2000, and only Duke has logged more consensus All-Americans.
The results from that talent? One trip to the Final Four and three Elite Eight appearances.
(That success also made the hoops squad more profitable in the postseason than the football team last year. That's a sure sign of a big-time hoops program, eh?)
So give credit to Barnes, who's averaged nearly 25 wins a season during his 10-year Texas tenure and has long been one of the game's most underappreciated coaches. He walked into a bit of mess at Texas, cleaned it up and hasn't struggled since.
Still, he's not the only coach who ensured Texas landed on this list.
It all starts with L. Theo Belmont, who was 58-9 as the men's basketball coach, won the initial Southwest Conference title and recorded perfect records in 1914 and 1915. Those perfect seasons grew into a 44-game winning streak, which is still the fifth-longest streak in NCAA history.
Texas had highs and lows for the next 60 years, including the occasional SWC title and a couple of Final Fours. But the 'Horns may have been the most entertaining in the late '70s when Abe Lemons arrived in Austin.
Lemons, who took Oklahoma City University to the NCAA tourney seven times, arrived in 1976 and guided the 'Horns to the NIT title in his second season, earning coach of the year honors and vied with Arkansas for SWC supremacy. He only had one more 20-win season, but made the quote his lasting legacy.
On punishing his players by telling them they couldn't return to their hotel in Abilene until 10 p.m.: "It was Sunday night and everything was shut down. I'd be doing them a favor by letting them come in early."
On playing time: "I'm not playing favorites. All my favorites have graduated."
On spotting a future Hall of Fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski, then with Army: "He's doing a great job. If anybody could spell his name, he'd be coach of the year."
On sports rituals: "We don't pray after a game. That's too late."
And, of course, on his firing by the school's athletic director, DeLoss Dodds: "I looked around the room and nobody else was there, so he had to be talking to me."
With the humor, history and recent success, it was a no-brainer to have Texas at No. 21. The biggest question now is how much higher they'll rise under Barnes.
Next Tuesday: No. 20 on the list of greatest programs.