St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett is expected to be on the short list of candidates for the USC vacancy.
Tim Floyd has been on a two-month roller coast ride that finally ended yesterday at rock bottom. The former USC coach was reportedly about to be named the head man at Arizona a few months ago before a change of heart that kept him at Southern Cal. You have to wonder how he feels about that decision now. Floyd is now out as the Trojan head basketball coach and his departure has left the college basketball world scratching its head. Floyd's "resignation" now adds fuel the fire that is USC athletics. The basketball and football programs have come under investigation by the NCAA for potential recruiting violations and Tim Floyd was specifically implicated for his handling of OJ Mayo.
What happens at USC from here on out, we could really care less about here at SSF but the head coaching vacancy definitely caught our eye. If Floyd would have left USC a few months ago and taken the job at Arizona, the Trojans probably could have avoided some of this recruiting mess and landed one of the bigger fish of college basketball, maybe even Pitt's Jamie Dixon. Now, however, they are going to have a tough time finding a well-established coach like that to jump ship for a program that has really taken a beating recently. For this reason, I would not be stunned if current St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett was on the shot list for the USC job.
Putting aside all the recruiting issues and recent player defections, Southern Cal still has plenty of offer a guy like Bennett. First off, they are in the Pac-10. Bennett won't have to have 30 or so wins to make the NCAA Tournament if he is in the Pac-10. He'll have 1000x better facilities, get to work in LA, and be friends with Pete Carroll. This also comes at a pretty rough time for the St. Mary's program. Graduating senior Diamon Simpson is no longer a Gael and guard Patty Mills recently declared that he will remain in the NBA Draft. This means that the only really established player they have returning is Omar Samhan and a supporting cast of Mickey McConnell and Wayne Hunter. They have some good young players like Tim Williams and Colin Chiverton but they're redshirts and have yet to hit the court.
This would be the worst-case scenario for a program like St. Mary's because they are at a very crucial juncture in their development. The West Coast Conference is notorious for having teams rise up and challenge Gonzaga in recent years only to fall back down to the depths of the league (see LMU a few years ago). If Bennett were to leave the program, you would have a very inexperienced team with a brand new coach and that is never a healthy combination. It is the last thing the West Coast Conference needs as well. The Gonzaga-St. Mary's rivalry is really starting to push through on the national level and it has become two games that a lot of America watches. Bennett leaving means the conference is probably a one-bid league for quite a while again, unless Eric Reveno can continue showing progress with Portland.
I never expected Bennett to remain with St. Mary's until he was done coaching and there is no doubt that he has paid his dues to the program. In his eight years he has shown a remarkable eye for talent with guys like Patty Mills and Diamon Simpson who were largely overlooked and turned in to two of the best players on the West Coast. I'd imagine his name will become pretty hot from this point on when the USC job is discussed. Their will be plenty of other names I'm sure. The big fish like Billy Gillispie and Bob Knight will probably be mentioned and guys like Reggie Theus as well. Hopefully they stay away from Randy Bennett but he may be to hard to ignore.