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Finebaum: "Something is wrong" between Barnes, Tennessee

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For the first time since turning down an offer to become UCLA’s next head basketball coach and agreeing to a new deal with Tennessee, Rick Barnes spoke to local media on Tuesday. Naturally, the reports surrounding Barnes and UCLA were a hot topic of conversation.

Instead of downplaying or outright dismissing the reports, Barnes was extremely open about his negotiations with the Bruins. According to the Tennessee head coach, he’d be in Los Angeles right now if his talks with UCLA hadn’t hit a snag due to his buyout with the Vols.

“I think I would have been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes admitted. “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that that’s what would have happened. But with that said, and I’m gonna say it again, when it got down to that point, I can’t tell you again how much, in my mind, I guess I should say, I prayed, and one of the last prayers I prayed after Candy told me, ‘Will you make a decision,’ in my mind I know what I had prayed. I asked God for total clarity. And when they came back with their decision, I knew that I’m not supposed to be the coach at UCLA.”

That is about as honest as you can be, and for some people Barnes was a little too honest. Barnes openly talking about his flirtation with UCLA raised some eyebrows in the sports media world, and one of those cocked eyebrows belonged to ESPN’s Paul Finebaum.

On Tuesday’s edition of his radio show, Finebaum discussed what he gleaned from Barnes’ press conference. According to the ESPN radio host, Barnes’ brutal honesty was a sign that things aren’t quite right when it comes to his relationship with Tennessee.

“I mean, listen, give Rick Barnes credit,” Finebaum said. “He was brutally honest. He was honest, but I wonder what and how he honestly feels about Tennessee now. Something is wrong there, in my opinion. He wouldn’t have said that otherwise. He was basically saying, ‘Listen, I was leaving.’ It was like you’re married and you flirt with leaving your wife of husband, and in the end, that person doesn’t really want you. So you go back and admit, ‘I would have been gone, but we couldn’t quite pull this off.’ It’s a bad statement to make, and I don’t know how it’s going to play in Tennessee. I know how it’s going to play elsewhere, and it makes it look like he really did want to leave. And if he did want to leave, why did he want to leave?”

Barnes did address the rumors that his relationship with athletic director Phillip Fulmer was deteriorating. His answer to the question was impassioned, and he made it clear that he has Fulmer’s full support on Rocky Top.

"For anybody to think he hasn’t supported me since I have been here, they are crazy,” Barnes said. “Where that would come from, I don’t get it. I have watched him come in here and the way he has tried to look at 24 different sports and talk about how he wants every sport on this campus to have everything they need to compete at the highest level, we know that he is working hard with football. I think he has worked hard with basketball. I think he has worked hard with baseball. He has worked hard with everything. I don’t know where that came from.”

247SPORTS.COM

Was Rick Barnes too honest about the UCLA speculation?

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Sorry, not buying it. I called out finebaum on this yesterday. He never ever quoted the second part of Barnes comments. When you read the whole thing it's more clear. 

Click bait for the time when there's no football to talk about. 

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