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March 29, 2013

Not a tough question: Tim Floyd is the answer

We understand. Basketball isn't exactly our thing here -- or USC's. But please, we can do better than this.

Kareen Abdul-Jabbar? Ben Howland? Steve Lavin? What, Bill Walton and Gail Goodrich weren't available? Do we get to change the colors to baby blue and gold if one of those guys comes over?

Mike Brown? Reggie Theus? Phil Jackson?

What nexus of panic, amnesia and as much as we hate to say it, attention-grabbing name-throwing, has brought us to a place where all we can do here is hope that no one from the outside world gets a look at the recent basketball coach threads. Or the reasoning, if we can call it that, on the Peristyle for where Pat Haden should be looking right now for Kevin O'Neill's successor?

Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins seems to be the people's choice and from all reports is a terrific guy. But has the 44-year-old from Laguna Hills even coached a CYO game? Wasn't he the second assistant at his alma mater until a year ago when Bernie Fine had to leave.

Sure, he's a Mater Dei guy, which of course he'll probably have to hide if he wants to have any sort of welcome recruiting in Southern California high school circles where the name Mater Dei can be fighting words for folks none-too-pleased the way the Santa Ana school's program picks up players.

And yeah, that yearlong NCAA probe into Syracuse basketball probably won't come down on Hopkins, or maybe even point to him, but is USC in position to take that chance right now?

Or any chance?

But here's where it gets weird. Now that the top tier guys have taken advantage of USC's interest to get a raise and a longer-term contract, it's clear USC is some sort of serious player on the national scene -- or could be. Someone at Pittsburgh, New Mexico, Memphis and maybe even VCU, took the Trojan threat seriously enough to pony up some serious bucks to keep their guys at home.

But here's what's tough to take seriously. Statements like "if we're down to Hopkins and [Florida Gulf Coast's] Andy Enfield, could you take a chance on Enfield. Have to go with Hopkins." And all you can say is "aaaggghhhhh . . . what are you talking about?"

Enfield has coached in the NBA, the ACC, been a head coach for two years and done all sorts of one-of-a-kind interestingly entrepreneurial things. Hopkins has been an assistant at Syracuse. Would he run Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone? It's great if you have the right five long-armed guys and you're not playing a good team that's ready to play against it. But it's not exactly the uptempo game we've been hearing about.

Mike Montgomery? You're kidding, right? If the Pac-12 fined temper-tantrum Mike coaching at Cal, he'd get the death penalty if he performed his player-shoving act at USC.

Tommy Amaker? Does he really want to be here? And have you checked out how it went for him at Seton Hall and Michigan? There's a reason the Wolverines haven't made it this far in 19 years.

Some other assistant? Sorry, USC can't afford to go there. Thank KO and KO's enablers for that.

And if you're looking for a reason why the top tier guys all passed, how about that one: Would you want to put your upwardly mobile career arc in the hands of people who let KO hang around for nearly four years?

Or the folks who knew for months, really all year at least, that they'd need a new coach. KO knew he was done here so they had to. And now USC has lost the one edge it had -- the jump on everyone and is scrambling around with the likes of Minnesota, which didn't let Tubby Smith go until Monday? And no on Tubby too.

He's one of the five or six of the "names" here I've gotten to cover. And the fit isn't close to right with Tubby, a guy I really like and admire.

And sure, there are plenty of folks out there who could do the job. But Marquette's Buzz Williams probably makes too much and is too important to his school although if he could teach his guys to shoot, he'd be a heck of a pick for somebody.

Wichita State's Gregg Marshall is here this week in LA and there's no question, despite his lack of a West Coast background, he could be the pick of the litter with Enfield an interesting reach. Only USC doesn't have to reach here.

Just make the smart, safe, sure and easy shot, as a wise basketball coach would advise us -- Tim Floyd. Forget that one columnist who said USC should hire Howland over Floyd because of the NCAA "baggage."

What NCAA "baggage"? No one has more NCAA clearances and endorsements than Floyd. No one has been checked out more. "Baggage" Sorry but that's just plain wrong. Everybody has "baggage" in this game.

Has Tim made some reaches over time on players? Sure. All these guys have. Do we wish he hadn't? Of course. Does he realize that at USC now, you really don't have to? You can book it.

But no one has had a plan, put it into place and had USC on the way to the Final Four with his last team the way Floyd did. Keep in mind that thanks to what USC has just gone through, this is a transitional pick the way it was the last time Tim came on board.

And what better person to transition USC from one Tim Floyd Era to the next than the original Tim Floyd.

You want someone who can recruit SoCal? Who's better than Floyd, who can point to the seven USC guys he put into the NBA in four short years? You want someone who could get the jump big-time on the new guy in Westwood? Floyd would be a couple of years ahead of almost anyone who will walk through the door at UCLA. Not sure there's a better reason than that.

So no, Lorenzo Romar and Tad Boyle. You're good guys but not the right guy. The same for everybody else whose names we've seen here the last couple of weeks. Get back to the guy Haden and Senior Associate AD Steve Lopes talked to first in this process.

Tim Floyd is the right guy. Right now. It's the right call. Make it and stop all the craziness.

For once, it really shouldn't be all that tough for USC to get basketball right.

Dan Weber covers the Trojans program for USCFootball.com. You can reach him at weber@uscfootball.com.



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