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Could Gib Arnold be Kevin O'Neill's Eventual Successor?

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Is Gib Arnold destined to take over for Kevin O'Neill at USC in 2 years. (Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times)
Is Gib Arnold destined to take over for Kevin O'Neill at USC in 2 years. (Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times)

With an ongoing NCAA investigation and a new university president in Max Nikias both putting athletic director Mike Garrett's job in jeopardy, it's more than fair to also speculate as to how long current basketball coach Kevin O'Neill will stick around in Los Angeles. For the record, I am absolutely not saying that USC should cut ties with O'Neill. After all, the once named successor to Lute Olson at Arizona exceeded nearly all expectations in leading USC to a 16-14 mark during his first season with the Trojans. But on the other hand, I do mean to suggest that certain factors may create a situation in wich O'Neill is unable to remain head of the USC hoops program for an extended period of time.

For one, it has been well-documented that O'Neill has had short stins at nearly every one of his previous jobs so it's not a stretch to say that he won't be a fixture on the Galen Center sidelines in five years. After all, he spent 5 years at Marquette, 3 years, at Tennessee, 3 years at Northwestern, and just 1 season at Arizona. He certainly isn't a bastion of longevity.

With that considered, why should USC be any different? For a coach with a sub-500 career record, what out there indicates that O'Neill's stay at USC will be any longer than his predecessor's, Tim Floyd? Was it the Diamond Head Classic tournament victory or the season sweep over one of the worst UCLA teams in recent memory? What about finishing over .500 after being predicted to finish 9th in the Pac-10? Granted, all those things are positive for the program and steps in the right direction, but none of them guarantee permanent job security for O'Neill, especially coming after a year in which the competition in the Pac-10 was at an all-time low.

In turn, if a new athletic director does take over Garrett within the next 1-2 years, which is quite possible considering Garrett's age - 65, and significant progress has not been made on the part of O'Neill and the NCAA investigation has come and passed, wouldn't a new AD be inclinced to hire his own guy? Combining those two factors seems to indicate that O'Neill has through the 2011-2012, when Aaron Fuller and DeWayne Dedmon are eligible, to make the postseason, either the NCAA Tournament or a deep run in the NIT. If that doesn't happen, look for a new sheriff on Figueroa and Jefferson, possibly some guy from Hawaii.

More after the jump...

That is Gib Arnold I speak of. Yes, the former Trojan assistant and new Hawaii coach, who was fired by O'Neill could eventually suceed him at USC, especially if his strong start on the Island is any indication. Per Dayton Morinaga of the Honolulu Advertiser:

Arnold's inaugural recruiting class is receiving national attention. The recruiting website www.hoopscooponline.com rates Hawai'i as the No. 7 class in the country, behind Kentucky, Memphis, Ohio State, Missouri, Marquette and Wake Forest.

"That's not saying that Hawai'i got better players than some of the other top-echelon programs, because having eight (recruits) had a lot to do with it in the (rating) system I use," said Hoopscoop editor Clark Francis. "But this is a very impressive group for Hawai'i. (Arnold) got some kids who could compete in the Pac-10. UCLA would love to take some of those backcourt kids."

Point guard Anthony Salter - who signed with Hawai'i last week - is one of the top recruits in the Western Athletic Conference, according to Hoopscoop.

Francis said he thinks another point guard recruit, Bobby Miles, "could be an all-league player by his sophomore year."

Forward Josten Thomas is "the most physically ready to play Division I right now," according to Arnold, and forward Dominick Brumfield is not far behind.

The word potential has showed up frequently in the descriptions of the others: Bo Barnes, Jordan Coleman, Vander Joaquim and Trevor Wiseman.

Perhaps the biggest question: How did Arnold do it?

Recruiting and Xs and Os are two entirely different animals, but Arnold's work with the Warriors thus far has most fans pretty excited about the future of the program. It's undeniable that he has Hawaii headed in the right direction.

I think in 2 years UH will be back to contending for WAC titles.

...and

UH better start saving money for the pay raise he will most definitely earn. If UH does not plan ahead for his extension, a major conference school will lure him away...the fact remains that Gib is an awesome recruiter and major basketball schools will surely go after him.

Despite being a native of Hawaii, Arnold also played high school basketball in Honolulu, I think it's fair to assume that if all goes well (the Warriors become fixtures atop the WAC conference), that Arnold will be looking to jump to a bigger job on the west coast such as USC.

If that situation were to present itself, Arnold pacing the sidelines of Galen Center makes a whole lot of sense. He would've been successful as a college head coach, which wasn't the case with O'Neill, and he has long recruiting ties to Southern California after his days as an assistant under Tim Floyd at 'SC.

I'm not trying to be bold and rash by predicting the new USC basketball coach 2 years down the line. However, I do ask the community here at Conquest Chronicles to keep tabs on how Arnold does at Hawaii, because I strongly believe that if he is successful and O'Neill flames out in 2 years, that we could very well be looking at the next Trojan hoops coach for the 2012-2013 season.