by Austin Silvey @SilveyESP
Chris Beard is still a name that lives in relative obscurity amongst the vast array of coaches in college basketball. But he is in the process of leaving his imprint on the beautiful game and he won't be unknown for much longer.
Beard got his first head coaching job at Fort Scott Community College in 1999. He took the Greyhounds to their first winning season in eight years after finishing with a 19-12 record.
He took a new job the next year at Seminole State Junior College where he also stayed for only one season. He led the Trojans to a 25-6 record and a final ranking of 14th in the country.
After his two short stints at Fort Scott & Seminole State, he became the assistant head coach at Texas Tech from 2001-2011. During that time-frame he assisted under both Bob & Pat Knight. Together they made four NCAA Tournament appearances including one Sweet Sixteen run in 2005. Over that 10 year period, the Red Raiders had a combined record of 188-143.
In 2011, Beard ended up in Myrtle Beach, SC coaching a brand new ABA team called the South Carolina Warriors.
He took them all the way to the ABA Finals with a 29-0 record before losing two games back-to-back in a best of three championship series.
From 2012-2016, Beard made head coaching stops at three different schools including McMurry, Angelo State, and Arkansas-Little Rock. He was at McMurry for just one season and finished with a 19-10 record. He stayed at Angelo State for two years and closed his Rams tenure with a 47-15 overall record as well as the Lone Star Coach of the Year award.
In one season at UALR, Beard led the Trojans to a 30-5 record that included a Sun Belt regular season and conference tournament championship, a 12-seed in the NCAA Tournament, an upset of 5-seed Purdue in the first round, and the honor of being named Sun Belt Coach of the Year.
In March of 2016, UNLV pursued Beard for their vacant head coaching position and signed him to a five year deal.
Just a couple of weeks later Beard was contacted by Texas Tech Athletic Director, Kirby Hocutt, and offered the job as head coach of the Red Raiders.
After 24 hours of debating on what to do, according to a report by Yahoo Sports, Beard ultimately decided to renege on his commitment to UNLV and he flew out to Lubbock, TX the next day.
Year one at Texas Tech yielded an 18-14 overall record with no postseason appearance. But it was the second most wins in a single season for the Red Raiders since the 2009-10 season (19).
The next season (2017-18), Beard led them to a 27-10 season (11-7 in Big 12) and their first ever Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. He was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year as well.
Beard, now in his third season in Lubbock, is a 3-seed in this year's NCAA Tournament. They entered the tourney with a 26-6 overall record after winning the Big 12 regular season championship. They were eliminated in the conference tournament by a hot Bob Huggins West Virginia team, 79-74. Beard was also named the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
The Red Raiders defeated 14-seed Northern Kentucky in the Round of 64; followed by a convincing win over a really good 6-seed Buffalo team 78-58; in the Sweet Sixteen they beat the 2-seed Michigan Wolverines 63-44; and in the Elite Eight, they upset the 1-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs 75-69 to advance to the school's first ever Final Four.
"Well I go to the Final Four every year. This is the first time I get to coach a team that I love in the Final Four." - Chris Beard
"Well I go to the Final Four every year. This is the first time I get to coach a team that I love in the Final Four," Beard told a TBS reporter after leading Tech to the win over Gonzaga.
The recruiting has also picked up in a big way at Texas Tech since Beard's arrival. The 2016 class was ranked 135th nationally (10th in Big 12); 2017 class was 39th nationally (5th in Big 12); 2018 class was 33rd nationally (5th in Big 12) and the upcoming 2019 class is currently ranked 14th nationally and second in the Big 12. [rankings via 247sports]
Beard has now led Texas Tech to two straight Elite Eights (also the school's only two appearances) and is taking them to their first ever Final Four. The Red Raiders (30-6) await the winner of Duke/Michigan State in the Final Four on Thursday night.
Beard holds a 75-30 record at Texas Tech; 215-78 overall as a college head coach and an 8-2 record in the NCAA Tournament (pending Final Four game).
Overall, Beard's coaching career has been sporadic but there is one constant at all of his head-coaching stops....HE WINS. It has yet to be determined if this success can be sustained in one spot for longer periods of time but all the signs appear to be pointing in the right direction.
Beard will be a hot commodity in future coaching searches and it isn't hard to see why. His track record displays the ability to win right away and in a 'what have you done for me lately' society, that attribute is essentially a prerequisite.