- Fran Fraschilla, College Basketball
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Taking the USC head coaching job is a great opportunity for Rick Majerus -- especially since he was so anxious to simply return to the sidelines.
Remember, Majerus didn't exactly leave Utah on his terms in 2004. His body betrayed him last January midseason. But those of us who've been in the profession knew that once he rejuvenated himself, he would be coaching again.
In fact, what has turned out to be an 11-month sabbatical in the middle of his coaching career could be the best thing to ever happen to Majerus.
I used to equate coaching one college season to 15 months of work. Why? Well, while the job is a labor of love, the mental and physical toll it takes is enormous. Majerus has spent the time away from the bench regaining his health while hanging out in Hawaii, France and numerous gyms in between. His brief foray into broadcasting at ESPN undoubtedly gave him another perspective on coaching, as well.
One of my favorite things about my current job at ESPN is watching different coaches at work in practices and in games because it stimulates you and, often, validates what you believe in as a coach. As great a coach as Majerus is, he'll be even better because of his brief time in the broadcast booth.
I also expect Majerus will find that having the time away from the stress of a college season will also add a little balance in his life. I should know. Since leaving New Mexico two-plus seasons ago, I've been able to do things that normal people do ... simple things like taking my kids to school or coaching a sixth-grade basketball team. (In my nine all-consuming years as a head coach, I averaged about two movies a year. They were both rated "G".)
But, as much as the free time is great, someone with the passion for coaching like Majerus knows when it is time to go back. Coaches are almost masochistic, and live for the late-night film sessions and the two-a-day preseason practices. They are willing to suffer through buzzer-beating losses to coach for the occasional night when their team plays nearly perfect.
Rick Majerus will be juiced about the new challenge at USC. He is arriving at the ideal time. UCLA is not the juggernaut it was in the 60's and 70's, and won't be any time soon. And with a new 12,000-seat arena finally on the way, the door is open for the Trojans to capture the imagination of high school recruits in the area. Remember, Majerus' two best players at Utah -- Andre Miller and Keith Van Horn -- were each from Southern California.
As long as Majerus continues to exercise, stay in shape and, occasionally go for the salad bar instead of the pastrami on rye and onion rings, this will be a great marriage. USC needed someone to create the same buzz that Pete Carroll, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart have created nationally, and I think they have found that guy.
Fran Fraschilla, a former Division I head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico, is a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
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