Last week, UCLA hired Mick Cronin after attacking Rick Barnes of Tennessee.
But, what if UCLA had promised to pay for Barnes' $ 5 million purchase?
"I think he would have been the coach at UCLA," Barnes told reporters in Knoxville on Tuesday. "I said that to people before, I really felt that at that moment that's what would happen."
In one of the most transparent and honest news conferences ever held by a coach who has just turned down an attractive offer from another school, Barnes admitted that he had to deal with his final decision to stay in Knoxville, largely because of financial issues .
Tennessee forward Grant Williams says he is entering the NBA draft to "test the waters," but the consensus of the All-America team has not ruled out the possibility of returning for his senior season.
Rick Barnes said his interest in UCLA had nothing to do with Tennessee and it was about the intrigue of taking the Bruins to the glory they achieved under the great John Wooden.
As part of his return, Barnes agreed to a new agreement with Tennessee that will pay him $ 4 million per year before increasing to an annual $ 6 million sum at the end of the contract, sources told ESPN's Chris Low last week.
Barnes signed an agreement last year that was scheduled to pay him $ 3.25 million per year with annual increases of $ 100,000. His new agreement will also provide more money for his badistants, including former Colorado badistant Kim English, who replaces Rob Lanier in the Tennessee staff.
Lanier, UT's former badociate head coach, recently agreed to an agreement to be the head coach of Georgia State.
"I'm supposed to be in Tennessee," Barnes said. "And it's really beyond the basketball program, I'm in love with this community, I'm in love with this state, I think we have a lot of good things going on in this city."
But the multi-million dollar purchase on his contract seemed to be the main problem that prevented Barnes from taking his talents to Los Angeles.
"There was a lot of prayer, I can tell you that," Barnes said. "A lot of things happened, when it comes to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial point of view, the bottom line is that we could not solve it with the purchase."
Barnes led Tennessee, which achieved a No. 1 ranking during the 2018-19 season, to Sweet 16, where the Vols lost to Purdue in overtime in one of the best games in the history of the NCAA tournament.
On Tuesday, the 64-year-old coach said talks with UCLA moved quickly last week. But he told the school he would not leave Knoxville without talking to sports director Phillip Fulmer and other members of the community.
"I told them they were not going to leave here or join my team," Barnes said. "I will not leave here and I will not meet people who have treated me very well." … I said, "You can not say I'm sending a plane tomorrow and we're leaving. that this is done the right way & # 39; ".
Barnes said he lost weight while reflecting on his options. He also said that he believed that the breakdown of the purchase negotiations was a sign from God.
"There was once in my mind that I really felt that that would be what would happen," Barnes said of the possibility of accepting UCLA's offer. "I reached that point where I felt that my prayers had been answered."