Vols basketball coach Rick Barnes discusses (brief) TV career

Tennessee fans know they landed an accomplished basketball coach in Rick Barnes.

Some might not have known he’s also a professional actor. Or at least he was — once.

Barnes made an appearance on NBC’s hit TV show “Friday Night Lights” back when he coached the Texas basketball team. He played a football coach in the 11th episode of Season Two, and he’s still reaping the rewards. They include a Screen Actor’s Guild card, an Oscar vote and an occasional royalty of “about 17 or 18 bucks.”

“That came about because my son was living in California,” Barnes told Sports Radio’s SportsTalk on Friday. “I flew back and was sitting beside this guy. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. He told me he was an actor in “Friday Night Lights.” I said, ‘Really?’ They were doing all that in Austin, Texas. He actually sad that everyone on the plane is part of that cast in some way. He pointed to his left and said, ‘That guy right there is in charge of the whole thing.’ He was asleep. I’d gotten up and went to the restroom, and when I came back to my seat, he was awake. And he asked me if I would do a cameo.”

Barnes recruited the show’s top running back, Brian “Smash” Williams, during his cameo. Spoiler alert: Barnes revealed the actor who plays smash, Gaius Charles, said he never touched a football in his life before his role on the show. Barnes joked that it might not be his last acting gig.

“I’m getting ready to stop coaching and get into acting full-time, you know?” he said. “There are a few roles on TV I think I would be really good for. All the roles that (Kevin) Costner and (Clint) Eastwood play, they should have cast me in some of those roles.”

Barnes also told the radio show’s hosts, Jimmy Hyams and Jesse Smithey, that he was conducting this radio interview while in the back of a limousine on the way to a charity event.

Sounds like he’s ready for Hollywood.

Some other highlights from the interview, which you can listen to in full here, included:

  • Two of Barnes’ three UT commitments are from Canada. He was asked if a better brand of basketball is being taught in Canada than the United States.
    Barnes: “I can say this to you without reservation: Every Canadian kid that we have ever coached has a passion, and their work ethic is unbelievable. I can tell you, up to this point, and I don’t think it will be any different, the three Canadians we coached while we were at Texas, those guys would be in the top-10 in terms of putting time in the gym, staying in the gym and wanting to be as good as they can be. I do think there is someway, somehow a work ethic that is put in place there, and a love for the game. They’re getting some great coaching at the grassroots level.”
  • Barnes was asked what it’s like when players leave a program after a coaching change. How hard is he working to get them to stay?
    Barnes: “The key is honesty. You’ve got to sit down, and you’re always going to lay out your program the way that you want it to go — what you’re looking for going forward, what’s going to be expected, what’s going to be the culture you’re trying to create. And sometimes it’s just not what the player is looking for. Sometimes it’s not what the coach is looking for … We want it to work for everyone. But we’ve done this long enough to know that it’s not going to work (for everyone). Sometimes it’s just better that everyone gets a fresh start. You never know how that’s going to work out, but it seems to always take care of itself.”
  • Barnes also said the Vols “could end up on the road” for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this season. The slate of games should be announced sometime this week.