A week ago, Rick Barnes had Tennessee Vols fans on their edge of their seat as he decided whether or not he wanted to leave Knoxville for UCLA.

But now that Barnes has decided to stay on Rocky Top, Tennessee fans can once again appreciate the North Carolina native’s keen sense of humor.

Barnes appeared at the USBWA dinner in St. Louis on Monday night and threw a good natured jab at UNC head coach Roy Williams.

Here’s what went down.

Duke’s Zion Williamson was also in attendance, to accept various awards, and told the crowd that he watches highlights of Tar Heel legend and NBA great Michael Jordan to elevate his game.

Barnes couldn’t resist offering a clever reply.

Pure gold.

All kidding aside, Barnes is probably right. Roy Williams probably will use that comment in recruiting. In fact, he’d be crazy not to mention that one of the most exciting freshmen of all time, who happened to play at Duke, watched highlights of a UNC player to get better.

Back to normal

Tennessee fans are undoubtedly happy to see Barnes laughing it up while still employed by the Vols. Barnes was dangerously close to leaving UT for UCLA, but a last minute intervention by AD Phillip Fulmer (and perhaps some buyout issues on the Bruins’ end) kept the veteran head coach in Knoxville.

Barnes received a new contract that includes a substantial raise and a larger salary pool for his assistants.

Vol nation, however, is just happy to see Barnes’ witty sense of humor on display as UT’s head coach.

It certainly would’ve been painful for Tennessee fans to watch Barnes cracking jokes as UCLA’s head coach.

But lately, things are starting to go right for the Vols.

Barnes’ decision to stay is another instance that went from potential disaster to potential program defining moment.

Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

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