When USC athletic director Pat Haden fired coach Kevin O'Neil four games into the start of Pac-12 play in January, most believed the Trojans would try to revive interest in their basketball program by targeting splashy candidates for the position.
Sure enough, the first coach to acknowledge he has interviewed for the job would surely create some buzz.
[Forde Minutes: March begins with every team fighting for something]
UTEP's Tim Floyd, who coached USC from 2005 to 2009, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday night that he met for three hours with Haden to discuss the job opening, and if you think that's weird, well, you're not alone.
First of all, Floyd resigned at USC in 2009 amid allegations of improper conduct related to the recruitment of ex-Trojans guard O.J. Mayo. Though Floyd was quick to note that the NCAA found no proof he was involved and cleared him of all wrongdoing, it's unusual that the school that essentially sent him packing would now be interested again.
Also strange was the timing of Floyd's on-the-record admission that he has interviewed for the USC job.
Not only is UTEP still playing this season, the Miners (16-12, 9-5) also have their biggest game of the year coming up Tuesday night when Conference USA-leading Memphis visits El Paso. For Floyd to acknowledge he's looking at other jobs and needlessly create a distraction on the eve of the game is not something you'd see many other coaches do.
It's possible Haden's conversation with Floyd was more of a fact-finding mission than an interview, but that's not how the Times story portrays it. Haden replaced Mike Garrett as USC athletic director in 2010, so he played no role in Floyd's departure.
So is Floyd going to be USC's next coach? Well, that's still probably a long shot at this point, but he was successful with the Trojans before his tenure ended abruptly.
In four seasons with USC, Floyd made the NCAA tournament three times at a time when the Pac-12 was considerably stronger than it has been recently. His 2006-07 Trojans, led by Nick Young, Gabe Pruitt and Taj Gibson, advanced to the title game of the Pac-10 tournament and routed Kevin Durant-led Texas in the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling to North Carolina in the Sweet 16.
In addition to Floyd, the LA Times reported USC has interviewed Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, who grew up in Southern California and played at Orange County hoops factory Mater Dei. Hopkins is the coach-in-waiting at Syracuse, but it's no surprise he'd be interested since there's no sign Jim Boeheim is ready to retire.
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