Commentary

Floyd departure raises questions

Originally Published: June 9, 2009
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Tim Floyd might be done talking for the foreseeable future. A statement issued to his hometown-area paper in Jackson, Miss., possibly served as his farewell speech to college basketball.

But there are countless questions that need to be answered to understand the full scope of the complete unraveling of the Trojans basketball program since USC lost to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament's second round in Minneapolis in March.

Floyd
Floyd

On Tuesday night, ESPN.com reached out to a variety of sources throughout the NBA and college basketball who were close to Floyd. The consensus was that recent actions by Floyd showed a move was imminent after allegations that he paid money to a man who steered O.J. Mayo to the Trojans.

• By making the decision to resign, did Floyd get a negotiated settlement from USC? If he had stayed on and been fired before an NCAA hearing, he might have been able to be compensated much in the same way former Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien was when he wasn't given his due process based on the wording in his contract.

• Floyd is out as USC coach despite the fact that none of the allegations against him have turned into charges by the NCAA. Why did he choose to quit instead of stand up and face any possible charges?

• How much will the NCAA look at Floyd as a sacrificial lamb in the wake of a major investigation that involves football and basketball? Was this move pushed by USC so that when it's in front of the committee on infractions it can show that it took corrective action to avoid a charge of lack of institutional control?

• Why was USC so willing to grant signee Noel Johnson his release from his national letter of intent without a fight? Floyd and athletic director Mike Garrett didn't make an attempt to hold Johnson to his letter. A number of sources were stunned that USC didn't balk at releasing Johnson's NLI.

• How much was USC's decision to release Renardo Sidney from his commitment a sign to the NCAA that the Trojans wouldn't take on any more potential high-risk recruits?

• Why did Marcus Johnson -- who had just earned back his sixth year of eligibility through a rare waiver -- suddenly change his mind and stay in the NBA draft? USC was quick to make public that Johnson had won his appeal but days later was silent when Johnson opted to make himself available for the draft, though he's not likely to be selected.

• DeMar DeRozan was a likely lottery pick, and it was no surprise that he would leave after one season with the Trojans. But why did Daniel Hackett, whose father Rudy is the USC strength and conditioning coach, not even hesitate before skipping out on his senior season? Hackett has an Italian passport and can play in Italy, but he's not likely to get selected later this month in the NBA draft.

• Floyd flew to Tucson to meet with Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood and president Robert Shelton. Livengood has since said that he didn't offer the job to Floyd and the meeting was just an exploratory interview. Livengood said the interview took place in Tucson because it was more convenient for the president. But coaches don't normally fly into the city of the school searching for a coach if they are trying to keep their candidacy clandestine. Why did Floyd go to Tucson if he wasn't serious about taking the job? Why did Floyd withdraw from the search? What did Floyd and/or Arizona know at the time about the NCAA or a federal investigation?

• Will Garrett be the one making the call on the next hire? Will an elite coach want to touch USC without knowing if the Trojans will get hammered by the NCAA and while the feds are still looking into the case?

• What are USC's options for a head coach? The Trojans could go with an interim like current assistant Phil Johnson, who was a head coach at San Jose State.

They could make a play for someone like Pitt's Jamie Dixon. But through sources, Dixon has said he's not interested in making a move. He is currently vacationing in Hawaii and will be heading to Colorado Springs and then New Zealand for the next four weeks as head coach of the FIBA U-19 USA team.

The consensus is that USC would have to look at a coach who is above reproach from the NCAA. But established coaches who don't have to rebuild aren't likely to take over at USC in June or July amid swirling allegations. Even coaches who would seemingly take a gamble, like Saint Mary's Randy Bennett, aren't terribly excited about USC based on its current status, according to a source.

Oregon State's Craig Robinson is a popular name to move within the Pac-10, just like Tony Bennett was at Washington State before he made the move to Virginia. But the fear of the unknown, with the possibility of sanctions, makes this a tough call for anyone in a secure situation. Whether Garrett, or whoever makes the hire, considers former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, former Sacramento Kings coach Reggie Theus, former Texas Tech coach Bob Knight, Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg or Long Beach State's Dan Monson is still up for debate.

One thing is certain: Landing Mayo didn't get Tim Floyd an NCAA tournament win, but rather the wrath of the enforcement staff. And it looks like it ultimately cost Floyd his job.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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