After Floyd, USC's Top 5 Candidates
Garrett has time before having to go the interim route and there are some qualified coaches who either are unemployed or at mid-majors and would likely leave their schools and incoming recruiting classes for a job at a major school in a major conference. The USC athletic director has a history for going after tough gets and succeeding, but the question is whether the Trojans basketball program will be severely punished for the Mayo situation? Floyd was accused by former Mayo associate Louis Johnson of giving $1,000 to Rodney Guillory, an alleged street agent representing Mayo.
Those allegations came after Johnson said that Mayo also received money from a sports agent years before enrolling at USC. The NCAA decided to combine the investigation of Mayo and former USC Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.
But even with all of that, still USC plays in the No. 2 market, in a spanking new arena and has a massive recruiting base that begins in the Southern California and expands nationally. It remains a premium job, regardless of the early adversity a new coach may endure.
So here is a list of early coaching candidates and the pros and cons for each of taking the gig.
1) Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh -- West Coast schools have long admired Dixon from a distance and Dixon's Southern California roots (he is from North Hollywood) may be the nudge he needs to leave Pitt. Dixon is 43, a terrific recruiter and nearly took the Panthers to the Final Four and is losing a core of his club, including All-America DeJuan Blair. It may be the right time to head west for Dixon and he would be the perfect candidate to rebuild the USC program and compete against former mentor Ben Howland at UCLA.
2) Reggie Theus, former NBA coach, New Mexico State coach -- Theus has been looking to get back into the college game since being fired in Sacramento, and Rush Street Reggie would relish the chance to take his act to Figueroa. Like Dixon, Theus is relatively young and would make a major impact in recruiting. And he also took a downtrodden New Mexico State program to the NCAA tournament in 2007. Theus lives in Los Angeles and would be the perfect Hollywood type to recruit and win.
3) Randy Bennett, St. Mary's coach -- Bennett has long sought a major job and he probably deserves one. This may be the time to leave. The best player during his tenure -- Patty Mills -- is committed to the NBA draft and all-conference player Diamon Simpson is graduating. Bennett was rumored to be a candidate for the Cal job before it hired Mike Montgomery and probably has taken St. Mary's as far as it can go -- an NCAA tournament team every couple of years.
4) Larry Eustachy, Southern Miss -- The former Iowa State coach has done little at Southern Miss to earn a promotion but Garrett apparently covets the embattled Eustachy. The Eagles have yet to come close to an NCAA tournament or even challenge Memphis in Conference USA, but he did make Iowa State respectable during his time there before alcohol issues ended his reign.
5) Mike Davis, UAB coach -- Davis succeeded Bobby Knight at Indiana, so he isn't afraid to take on any challenge. And if he was interested in the Washington State job, as he was, he will be interested in this gig. Davis probably figures he has a better chance to compete consistently in the Pac-10 at USC than in Conference USA at UAB, and remember, he did take a team to the national title game in 2002.