"I am convinced that in Kevin, we have found the right coach at the right time for our great institution -- a proven winner at the professional and college level who has demonstrated over the years that he recognizes that what happens off the court is equally, if not more important, than what happens on it." Mike Garrett
I wrote yesterday that SC fans needed to come to grips that with the fact that USC basketball is not a an elite program that will not attract elite coaches. Of course, USC will be mocked because we didn't get our 1st, 2nd or even 3rd choice.
Those words were proven with yesterdays announcement that USC hired former Arizona head coach Kevin O'Neill. It really shouldn't be surprising to anyone that USC made this move. It is classic Mike Garrett...he got a defensive minded coach with pro experience. O'Neill is a strong disciplinarian who also has the ability to alienate a wide range of people from players to assistant coaches to boosters. Garrett's words above will come back to haunt him.
It has been funny to watch the message boards blow up with the comparisons to Garrett's hiring of Pete Carroll, comparisons that are as way off base as they are wishful thinking. There is very little on O'Neill's CV that would indicate a consistant level of success. Yes, you can see where he has had to take on multiple rebuilding jobs but that hasn't turned into consistent deep runs into the tourney. His time in the NBA is a little disconcerting as well.
The sad truth is that this was pretty much the only move USC could make. DIxon and Kruger were never serious options. Dixon's demands were so out of this world that it proved to me that he was never really interested in the position and his fall back could always be that they wouldn't me his demands. Kruger has had other opportunities at higher profile jobs and he didn't budge so why walk into this hornets nest?
I have read as much as I want to on this hire and his past. I won't quote from any of them but I will leave links to the articles so you can see for yourself.
I did see a few interesting things in the local papers though.
From The L.A. Times...
O'Neill has a reputation of being a good recruiter and game coach. His style has been compared to that of UCLA's Ben Howland, whose core curriculum is defense with offense at times considered an elective.
I haven't done a lot of digging but just who has O'Neill recruited that was relevant?
Tireless doesn't mean successful. I understand that many of his jobs were as a rebuilder but he is never around long enough to taste the fruits of his labor.
This passage from the DN made me laugh...
O'Neill has developed a reputation as a love-him-or- hate-him coach with an attention to detail that sometimes became overshadowed by his fiery personality. During a game when he coached at Tennessee, O'Neill sent reserve Jason Moore into a game against Arkansas. After Moore made some errors and Tennessee lost its lead, O'Neill screamed at Moore, "You better hope you die before halftime!"
Another time, O'Neill became so frustrated with a player during practice he sat in the stands for 15 minutes and booed him.
O'Neill said he changed since he was at Tennessee. He told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal last year, "Everybody mellows. Once I married my wife two years ago, Roberta - I met her six years ago, and she changed me for the better. She just - when you're happy in your personal life, I think you mellow a little bit. But I still work as hard as I ever have."
He mellowed so much that it is rumored that he yelled at former UA assistant Josh Pastner to sit down and STFU during a game. Now, I am not sure what the context was and Pastner was one of Lute's guys but you could see that something was bound to happen sooner or later.
SC fans have two choices now that the coaching selection has been made. 1) hold our noses and support the program and hope for the best or 2) turn our back on basketball altogether. The latter just doesn't seem right to me. The athletic department has made some terrible missteps in how they have managed the basketball program and the fallout of the Mayo mess. But in time this will pass and hopefully USC will have better leadership and will be a stronger program because of it.
Here are the links I was reffereing to...you be the judge.
O'Neill not the right choice for USC gig - FOX Sports on MSN
Here is Goodman's Take
Gimino: Kevin O'Neill's tough love
Here is an article while O'Neill was in AZ
The Grizzlies' defensive guru: Coach Kevin O'Neill : Grizzlies : Memphis Commercial Appeal
Here is some history on O'Neill
O'Neill, four assistants fired by Raptors - NBA - ESPN
This is after he was fired by Toronto
I am sure there are more but I got tired of lookiing.