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Floyd Bounces Right to Trojans

He's coming off two NBA jobs that didn't work out; they're coming off Majerus' strange rejection.

January 15, 2005|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Tim Floyd did not have to think twice about accepting USC's basketball head coaching job. It just took a while before the offer finally came.

"I fully understand why Rick Majerus was the first choice; he's a phenomenal basketball coach," said Floyd, who was introduced as the Trojans' coach Friday, four weeks after Majerus resigned only five days after accepting the position.

"I thought about it and had to deal with it in my own ego. The best way I could put it in perspective is that I think if my wife was really choosing I don't think that I would have been her first choice, either."

Floyd didn't mind dusting off one-liners because he got the job he wanted -- even though the Trojans are struggling at 7-9 overall, 0-5 in Pacific 10 Conference play and will, at most, have only four returnees next season.

"I've never been in a job that was in this fertile of a recruiting area," he said.

Another plus for Floyd was USC's new Galen Center, a 10,258-seat arena that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2006.

"It's also exciting to go out and tell people about our new building," he said. "To tell them that the hole is in the ground and that your freshman season in 2006 you will be playing in a building that will not take a backseat to anybody in the country."

Although interim Coach Jim Saia will continue to guide the Trojans the remainder of this season, Floyd will immediately go to work. Over the next six days, he plans to meet with current players and coaches, target recruits, and start putting together his staff.

Floyd, 50, is eager to rebuild his reputation after getting fired from two NBA jobs and finishing 12-18 in his last college season at Iowa State. He said he hopes USC will be his final stop.

"This will be my last pro or college job. My last job, period," said Floyd, who will have to pass a test to regain his NCAA certification before he's allowed to go out recruiting. "We're tired of moving."

Floyd's wife, Beverly, and daughter, Shannon, attended Friday's news conference.

Seven years ago, Floyd was among the hottest coaches in college basketball. After turning underdog programs at Idaho, New Orleans and Iowa State into winners, his reputation peaked when Chicago Bull General Manager Jerry Krause made it known that he wanted him to replace Phil Jackson as coach.

That's when Floyd's career made a sharp turn. He made the jump from college to the pros when Krause hired him in 1998, but instead of taking over a Michael Jordan-led team that had won six NBA championships, Floyd inherited a depleted roster.

Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were gone. In their place, was a Toni Kukoc-led team headed nowhere.

Floyd's NBA experience in Chicago did not have too many highs. The Bulls were 40-190 in his three-plus seasons and he was fired.

Floyd said he might have returned to the college ranks then, but "I was a little ticked off about it and wanted to show that I could coach."

So Floyd waited until he got the call from the New Orleans Hornets, a relocated franchise with playoff expectations.

But in his only season with New Orleans, 2003-04, the Hornets lost high-scoring forward Jamal Mashburn to a knee injury. The Hornets still made the playoffs, and nearly made it to the second round, but that wasn't good enough for Floyd to keep his job.

Floyd said he is a much better coach because of his NBA experience.

"You take from the game and you take from other coaches," he said. 'There are certainly things that I learned in the NBA that we're going to use in the college game that we didn't use in the past. Probably a little more pick-and-rolls that will give us more of a pro look than a college look."

Floyd's time in the NBA is what sold USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett, who said Floyd was a close No. 2 to his original choice of Majerus. After watching Pete Carroll turn the Trojans' football program around following two failed head coaching jobs in the NFL, Garrett is hoping that Floyd is able to transfer his pro experience into the same type of success.

"I look for him to turn the program around about as quickly as Pete turned the football program around," Garrett said.

In Floyd, USC is getting a coach who has a reputation for being feisty. He has had reported clashes with reporters and talk-show hosts, and he once kicked the ball into the stands during a game when he coached the Hornets.

"That's not a concern at all," Garrett said. "We wanted someone with drive who wanted to win.

"When you tell me that he's done stuff like that, it makes me feel kind of good. ... I'm a hard-liner too, and to think that we have someone like that, who will compete and coach, fight and scratch, that means a lot to me."



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