Kevin O’Neill, the hot-headed USC basketball coach, is out of job. Athletic director Pat Haden “removed” O’Neill as coach this morning. The Trojans, a mild disappointment at 7-10 this year, just beat Utah Saturday, but haven’t been that awful this season.
Losses include Illinois, Marquette, San Diego State, New Mexico and Minnesota. All of those are NCAA Tournament teams. No, I can’t explain the defeats against Georgia and Nebraska.
The trend, though, hasn’t been a good one for the Trojans: 6-26 last year (injuries hurt the team), and they won’t be in the NCAA tournament this year. O’Neill walked into the Tim Floyd/OJ Mayo mess and despite getting a talented team to the NCAA tournament in 2009 (DeRozan, Vucevic, Taj Gibson), years following for disappointing. Going the JUCO route this year was a last-ditch effort to save his job. It failed. Toss in Ben Howland’s suddenly-impressive recruiting at UCLA, and you’ve got a perfect time to can O’Neil.
Oh, and should I mention that this is an ideal smokescreen to take the attention away from football coach Lane Kiffin, who many think should be fired?
How good of a job is USC? You’ll probably hear early buzz about Josh Pastner from Memphis (excellent recruiter), Randy Bennett at St. Mary’s, and Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh, a West Coaster. But with Pitt moving to the ACC, why would Dixon leave?