LOS ANGELES - Two new names have emerged in UCLA's basketball coaching search that are familiar to longtime fans of the college game: Tennessee's Rick Barnes and Oklahoma's Lon Kruger.
The veteran coaches have both interviewed with school officials, according to a person close to the situation not authorized to speak publicly about the Bruins' quest to find a permanent replacement to Steve Alford.
Barnes, 64, is considered the front-runner after coming off a season with Tennessee in which the Volunteers reached a regional semifinal in the NCAA tournament and he was selected the Naismith Coach of the Year. A person close to Barnes told the Los Angeles Times that he would accept the job if offered it.
Barnes has compiled a 692-364 record in 32 seasons as a college coach, taking Texas to the Final Four in 2003 and making two other appearances in a regional final during his 17 seasons with the Longhorns.
Texas fired Barnes in 2015 after seven consecutive seasons of not reaching the NCAA tournament's second weekend, but he was almost immediately hired by Tennessee and has increased his win total in each of his four seasons with the Volunteers, going 31-6 this season, including 15-3 in the Southeastern Conference.
Barnes made $3.25 million last season, according to USA Today's salary database, with a $5 million buyout.
Kruger, 66, has a similar resume to Barnes, with one exception. He's gone 639-409 in 33 seasons, making trips to the Final Four with Florida and Oklahoma, but his teams have backslid in recent seasons.
The Sooners have gone 11-20, 18-14 and 20-14 over the last three seasons, finishing with a losing record in the Big 12 Conference. Kruger made $3.2 million last season, according to USA Today, with a $3.9 million buyout.
UCLA has pivoted in its coaching search after failing to agree to pay the $8 million buyout on Texas Christian coach Jamie Dixon's buyout.
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