BARNES BIDS FAREWELL TO TEXAS

Rick Barnes started off his farewell press conference talking about the people at Texas he loved - former regents chair Donald Evans and former athletic director DeLoss Dodds - both of whom convinced him to come to Austin 17 years ago during an interview in Atlanta.

"It's about the relationships," Rick Barnes said.

Notably absent from Barnes' farewell speech was current athletic director Steve Patterson.

Women's athletic director Chris Plonsky was there. So were Barnes' assistants at Texas. But no Patterson.

And that brings us to the icy moments of Barnes' otherwise fond farewell.

"I was told after our last game that I'd be back," Barnes said. "But something changed."

Sources told HornsDigest there was a face-to-face meeting on Tuesday in which Patterson told Barnes he wanted to keep him but others "above" him wanted Barnes fired. Barnes said he told Patterson, "I want to finish the job. I told him, 'I think we're close.'"

Two days after their face-to-face meeting, Barnes said he got a call from Patterson. And then later that night a flurry of newspaper reports came out with a source close to Patterson saying Patterson wanted significant changes, including staff, or Barnes would be fired.

"I do know that was leaked by the university," Barnes said, obviously referring to Patterson.

Barnes said all of his assistants - Rob Lanier, Russ Springmann, Chris Ogden and strength coach Todd Wright - offered to step down if it would mean Barnes could continue on at Texas.

"To tell you about the staff I have, we're in this together. I couldn't do that," Barnes said. "There's no way I was going to put my staff out there and say, 'They're the problem.'"

But that was about as close as Barnes would come to showing anything other than thanks to all the people who made his 17 years at Texas special.

"I'm blessed to have had 17 great years here," Barnes said. "I don't want the common fan or anyone else to think for one second that I'm bitter."

Barnes was asked if he'd coach again, and he said, "Yeah. Probably quicker than you think."

He became emotional when talking about T.J. Ford - the star of his 2003 Final Four team - especially telling stories about Ford calling the coach at 1 am one night from right outside Barnes' office door. And another story about Texas getting beat by 12 in a game versus Stanford when Ford asked him, "What are you thinking?"

Barnes said he responded testily, "What do you mean, what am I thinking? I think we're getting beat by 12."

According to Barnes, Ford then responded, "You mind if I take over the game?" And Barnes responded, "Be my guest."

"People think it's about the coaches," Barnes said. "But it's about those players. And I've had some great ones through the years, and I'm proud of all the players who have come through this program."

When asked what he'd say to the next coach at Texas, Barnes said, "I'd tell him he was coming to a special place."

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