DAYTON, OH - MARCH 16: Head coach Kevin O'Neill of the USC Trojans looks on from the bench during the game against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the first round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at UD Arena on March 16, 2011 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Our very own Kevin O'Neill has headed the USC basketball program for the past two seasons, compiling a 34-29 mark - a relatively impressive accomplishment considering all the player turnover in the aftermath of Tim Floyd's resignation. In spite of the team's appearance in the NCAA tournament on Wednesday, however, several internet reports have suggested that O'Neill's days at USC might be numbered. Yea, the suspension probably didn't help. So what's going to happen now?
Is Kevin O'Neill on the hot seat?
Yes. Any time a coach, particularly under the Max Nikias/Pat Haden administration, gets in any sort of altercation at a hotel bar, there are going to be ramifications. Add the fact that he wasn't hired by Haden in the first place and there are going to be at least some issues with "behavior and conduct." As some have said on this blog, the new motto is: "Don't embarrass the university." That's certainly part of the equation in this instance.
So what's the timeline for 'K.O.' to meet expectations then?
Year three needs to pay dividends.
Will there even be a year three?
It's looking that way. Despite initial reports from PointGuardU.com, an Arizona basketball website, that said O'Neill was going to be fired before USC's game against Virginia Commonwealth, it appears as if he still has a job for now. Sports by Brooks suggested early Thursday that talks of 'SC firing O'Neill have subsided.
USC source very close to the hoops program told me - after VCU - to not expect O'Neill to be fired immediately. All I got at the moment, but seems that some people think that might happen. Never know, but not what I'm hearing at the moment.
If Haden was going to fire O'Neill as a result of 'Hotelgate,' wouldn't that have occurred before the VCU game? At least from my estimation, it would seem to be a more likely development. In the meanwhile, Haden has said O'Neill "has my support," according to the Daily News.
If O'Neill stays, what does he need to do to keep his job?
First and foremost, keep a low profile. Despite their entertainment value, the "I work hard, I play hard" quotes probably shouldn't be repeated. It might be also best to avoid bars other than The Lab. But 20 wins, an NCAA tournament appearance and a top three finish in the conference are probably all minimum requirements.
What would happen if he's fired now?
Haden would probably try and snag someone like Saint Mary's Randy Bennett or Reggie Theus. Anyone with more name cache than Bennett is probably a longshot at this point, so don't start muttering Jamie Dixon or even Sean Miller. In terms of players, Nikola Vucevic might be more inclined to depart for the NBA if O'Neill leaves, and some of the Trojans' five signees, Greg Allen, James Blasczyk, DeWayne Dedmon, Alex Moore and Byron Wesley, might attempt to get out of their letters of intent, as well. Considering the number of players that left with Floyd two years ago, another coaching change could present similar problems in 2011.
What happens in the end?
O'Neill probably gets one more shot, as 2011-2012 officially becomes a make or break season.
If he leaves, will you miss him?
Maybe, maybe not. Admittedly, though, the glasses are fantastic.