If you are a college basketball coach, whether you are Kentucky’s John Calipari or UC Irvine’s Russell Turner, you have been to the Final Four. Of course, only a special group gets to coach on the NCAA Tournament’s biggest stage each year, but almost every single coach across the country is making their way to Minneapolis, Minnesota for this year’s final games.
Since 1991, Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard has been to the Final Four plenty of times. He’s so used to the scene with everyone talking shop at various hotels around the city, but he’s about to enter unfamiliar territory, and it’s amazing accomplishment.
For the first time in his career, the 46-year-old Beard is about to coach at the March Madness party when his No. 3-seed Red Raiders play the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans for a chance to play in the national championship game on Monday night.
It’s been an impressive run for Texas Tech since Beard took over prior to the 2016-17 season. He took over for Big 12 Coach of the Year Tubby Smith and has taken the program to new heights ever since. Beard won 18 games his first season, improved to 27 wins and an Elite Eight appearance last year, and now has the Red Raiders at a place the program has never been before.
Led by superstar sophomore, Lubbock, Texas hero and future NBA Draft lottery pick Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech is 30-6 overall, shared the Big 12 Conference regular season title with Kansas State, and has taken down some of the game’s biggest names in the West Region to reach the Final Four.
Northern Kentucky? Too easy. Buffalo? No problem. Michigan in the Sweet 16? See you later. Gonzaga? Better luck next year.
Nobody can score on the Red Raiders, who boast arguably the top defense in the country along with fellow Final Four team Virginia. It’s a pretty unique brand of basketball, not one that gets a lot of praise, and it’s all because Chris Beard is a wizard at his job.
There’s no doubt going to U.S. Bank Stadium this season is unfamiliar territory. And as he told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter, he has to be a little more responsible. However, he hilariously doesn’t appreciate saying this is his first trip to the Final Four.
“Well everybody keeps saying that, but I’ve been to like 24 Final Fours. I was drinking draft beers in the lobbies; this is the first one I get to coach in, but I’ve been to the Final Four.”
— Texas Tech coach Chris Beard
Throughout his career, Beard has held his fair share of jobs. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, the Marietta, Georgia native has been an assistant coach at Texas, Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian and North Texas. He’s also been a head coach at Fort Scott Community College, Seminole State Junior College, with the South Carolina Warriors, McMurry, Angelo State and Little Rock.
Beard was the associate head coach for the Red Raiders from 2001-2011 under legendary head coach Bob Knight and Pat Knight and returned to Lubbock to be the man in charge.
When men’s basketball coaches and athletic directors go to the Final Four, they use the weekend as a social gathering, whether it’s to find a new job or just have a beer with some of your colleagues.
Chris Beard knows all about that life. He’s about to experience a completely different one and has a chance to win a national title with the Texas Tech Red Raiders.