Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsCoaches

CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL

USC fans face the truth about loyalty and coaches

Arizona's recruitment of basketball Coach Tim Floyd, while disconcerting, shows just how much he has elevated the stature of USC basketball.

April 03, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE | ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL

DETROIT — Last year, Tim Floyd told anyone who would listen he was a USC Trojan for life.

"This is my last job," he insisted.

What Floyd never said was "this is my last job interview."

This week, Floyd told players at the season-ending basketball banquet that he was in for the long haul.

And Floyd meant it, at the time he said it.

Before he knew it, though, he was on a private jet headed to Tucson and interviewing for the Arizona job.

Reaction: Attach yourselves to dogs, folks, not coaches.

Dogs are loyal, and this was not the sequel to "Marley and Me."

How it unfolded: a radio station in Phoenix, KTAR, reported Wednesday night Floyd was positively, definitely and for sure going to be the next Arizona coach.

Thursday update from the KTAR.com news desk:

"Floyd turns down Arizona job."

K-Oops.

The station's website story reported, "Arizona fully expected Floyd to be their next head coach."

And the Chicago Tribune, in 1948, fully expected Thomas Dewey to be the next United States president.

Reaction: Don't believe everything you read, or hear on a radio station in Phoenix.

OK, so what now?

Do we beat on Floyd for being a liar?

Bulletin: He's a coach.

A coach's dream job is only his dream job until a better dream job opens up or someone opens the vault.

It wasn't the USC coach's fault that Arizona has so bungled the search for Lute Olson's successor and that Floyd's name worked its way onto Athletic Director Jim Livengood's list.

Floyd was Arizona's first choice after Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Jeff Capel, Mark Few and probably a few others.

Arizona doesn't open every day. Olson owned it for 24 years. It's a plum assignment. Basketball there is king.

Floyd was a big admirer of Olson, that's no ruse. At the Pacific 10 Conference coaches' preseason luncheon last fall, it was Floyd who suggested the league name an annual award after the second-most successful coach in its history behind John Wooden.

Floyd had to risk going back on his word -- because it was Arizona.

Why you can't blame him:

Arizona basketball faced one of its most turbulent years ever after Olson's abrupt retirement, for health reasons, just days before the start of the season.

This year had empty seats written all over it, yet Arizona fans remained loyal.

Arizona led the Pac-10 in attendance with an average of 14,545 a game, and the McKale Center was filled to a league-high 94.1% of capacity.

USC, with no last-minute coaching change and the gorgeous new Galen Center, averaged 5,618 fans a game and only 54.8% of capacity.

In a weird way, Arizona's overture was validation for what Floyd has built at USC.

It says something that, after only four years, he is already one of the most successful basketball coaches in school history.

His team's play down the stretch of the regular season, and then into the NCAA tournament, earned high praise.

Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said Thursday his Spartans were lucky to be in the Final Four after surviving a four-point second-round win over USC in Minneapolis.

USC was a tougher out for Michigan State than top-seeded Louisville.

Even if Floyd wasn't Arizona's plan A, B or C, it says something when Arizona basketball thinks USC's coach is the answer.

Memphis too had its sights set on Floyd as a possible successor for Calipari, who left this week to take over Kentucky.

And even if the fans aren't showing up yet at Galen, and even if basketball will never trump football at USC, Floyd has people at least talking about Trojans basketball.

The man can coach, he can recruit, and he can, as we just found out, say one thing and do another.

"This is my last job!"

Yeah, right.

Nick Saban once swore he would not be the next football coach at Alabama shortly before he became the next football coach at Alabama.

If Floyd keeps recruiting, and USC keeps winning, there will be other suitors.

Don't be shocked if next year's season-ending banquet is followed by a breaking-news radio station report.

It's good that Floyd stayed, as long as you know nothing is forever.

The shocker, in the end, wasn't that USC's basketball coach was interested in the Arizona job.

The shocker was that Arizona wanted USC's basketball coach.

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|