Good Luck Replacing Floyd At USC

The USC men’s basketball program is in a troubled place right now — and not just because Tim Floyd decided to step down rather than face the music.

They are going to have a very hard time replacing him.

Why would a top-flight coach come to Southern Cal right now? Even an up-and-coming coach with options? This program may soon be hit with NCAA penalties about the recruitment of OJ Mayo. All the team’s best players — DeMar DeRozan, Taj Gibson — are leaving the program for the NBA draft. Players with no real shot of getting picked have opted into the draft — Daniel Hackett, Marcus Johnson — and may rather play in Europe than the Galen Center. Even the incoming class of basketball players is having second thoughts, and one has already asked out of his letter of intent (and that request was oddly granted without a fight).

No talent and possible sanctions are not an inviting combination. And after the last mess, USC needs a coach with a stellar, squeaky-clean reputation. Why would that kind of coach want to come to USC right now?

Some of the names being floated are ridiculous. Disney fairy tale ridiculous. Jamie Dixon is not leaving a fantastic Pitt program that is an annual Final Four contender to come to the broken USC program, I don't care where he was born. You can forget about Bobby Knight or any other name well recognized outside basketball circles.

And even some within those circles. St. Mary’s Randy Bennett, has been rumored to be the hot up-and-coming who should be given the chance at a big school, and normally USC would be a good fit. But it is rumored he and others are very hesitant. Just ask Dan Monson how much fun it is to leave a good mid-major — he helped build Gonzaga into the best mid-major in the land then jumped to a Minnesota program about to be sanctioned. Now he’s back trying to resurrect Long Beach State (and doing a pretty good job at it).

Monson’s lesson was not lost however — coaches in demand can pick their spots. That’s why former big-time guys wanting to get back there — Mike Davis formerly of Indiana or Larry Eustachy formerly of Iowa State — may look askew at USC. Certainly big Pac-10 names on the move like Oregon State’s Craig Robinson will be hesitant at best.

Not that Mike Garrett shouldn’t try, but he should expect a lot of rejection. Fans should not be hoping for a big time hire. Because despite what the program could be in an ideal world, timing and reputation are everything. And right now, USC’s basketball program is a toxic asset.

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