Floyd might just be man for the job
When news broke of USC Athletic Director Pat Hadenâs three-hour meeting with former USC menâs basketball head coach Tim Floyd, my reaction was similar to that of fellow editor Alex Shultzâs, at least at first. I was a bit surprised, to say the least.
But once that initial shock subsided, my next thought was simple:Â Why not?
After mulling the prospect of Floyd returning to the Galen Center sidelines, I must say that I would be on board should Haden decide to pull the trigger on hiring him.
As Shultz explained in his column yesterday, there are many reservations about Floyd coming back to USC given the events that led to his resignation. Considering how I instinctively responded to the news with hesitation, I completely understand where heâs coming from.
But recall what Haden said during USCâs first game after former head coach Kevin OâNeill was fired: He pledged to turn USCâs basketball program into a winner. He said that, given the resources, location and national branding of USC, there was no reason that the Trojans could not consistently contend for conference and, down the line, national championships in menâs basketball.
And heâs right.
Really, there is no good reason why USCâs basketball program shouldnât be strong. The private schoolâs deep pockets and nationwide name recognition surely bolster its case, but the main factor that will be crucial in making the program great is simple: location, location, location.
USC is in the heart of arguably the deepest and richest pool of high school basketball talent in the country, which is why it is paramount to first and foremost hire a head coach who can recruit, something that Floyd has excelled in doing.
Consider that, during his four-year run as head coach, he recruited future NBA first-round picks Taj Gibson, O.J. Mayo, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, not to mention other all-conference players such as Daniel Hackett and Davon Jefferson.
Yes, the inclusion of Mayo in that list remains a source of discomfort. True, in its investigation, the NCAA found no violations made by Floyd, but the thought of welcoming back someone associated with perhaps the some of darkest times for the USC athletic program might be difficult to come to grips with.
But to be honest, once I thought about it a little, I was able to come to grips with this idea pretty quickly.
In the years that have passed since the NCAAâs USC witch hunt concluded, the NCAAâs Committee on Infractions has about as much credibility with the public as Manti Teâo â exactly none. Itâs widely viewed that the punishment handed down by the COI to USCâs football program was borderline criminal, and the sanctions placed on the basketball program were actually self-imposed, despite the COI finding no misconduct committed by Floyd himself.
What further increases my level of comfort with a possible Floyd return is the man who will be making the decision: Haden. This is a man who has dotted his Iâs and crossed his Tâs so diligently since arriving at USC that I think we can all safely trust his judgment.
Remember, this is the same person who ruled former running back Dillon Baxter ineligible for receiving a five-minute golf cart ride across campus by a wannabe sports agent in November 2010, as well as the man who suspended and later fired former baseball coach Frank Cruz because he violated the NCAAâs limits on CARA hours.
If Haden has decided to consider Floyd, youâd better believe heâs done plenty of investigating of his own to see if Floyd truly committed any wrongdoing at USC. Hadenâs played things too safe since replacing former AD Mike Garrett to take a chance on someone who might be a liability, which makes me believe that hiring Floyd would not put the program at risk for any future infractions.
But the main reason to believe Floyd can fulfill Hadenâs vision and turn USC basketball into a winner is that heâs done it before. In his four years with the school, the Trojans posted a record of 85-50 (counting games that have since been vacated by the NCAA), including a 25-12 record during the 2006-07 season â the most wins in school history. That year, Floyd led the team to the Sweet 16, accomplishing something only one other USC team had done since 1979, but lost in heartbreaking fashion to top-ranked North Carolina.
Floyd would go on to lead the team to three consecutive NCAA tournaments from 2007-09, the only time that has happened in school history. In 2009, USC won its first and only conference tournament when it beat Arizona State during a championship game at Staples Center. In the 2009 NCAA tournament, the Trojans pushed eventual national runner-up Michigan State to the brink in the second round of the tournament, but fell just short in what would be Floydâs last game as head coach.
If those last two paragraphs seem long-winded, itâs because they were. But thatâs what happens when you chronicle the achievements of a successful basketball program, which is exactly what Floyd built during his Â Â Â all-too-brief run with the Trojans.
Just imagine what he could do in his second time around.
âInside the 20sâ runs Thursdays.Â
To comment on this story, email Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org or visitÂ