Former Utah coach says he's committed to ESPN

Updated: December 9, 2004, 2:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Rick Majerus expects to talk to USC in the next two days about the Trojans' open coaching job, but is committed to working at ESPN throughout the season.

Majerus
Majerus

Majerus, the former Utah coach and current ESPN college basketball analyst, told ESPN on Wednesday night that he has had contact with USC, but wouldn't say with whom he's spoken since Henry Bibby was fired Monday four games into the season.

The Trojans named assistant coach Jim Saia as the interim coach. USC lost to Fresno State 71-68 on Wednesday, falling to 2-3 this season. The Bulldogs are unbeaten in five games.

His tenure, however, could be short.

Athletic director Mike Garrett told the Los Angeles Times that he wants to move quickly and name a permanent successor to Bibby soon.

"It could be 10 days, it could be 14 days," Garrett told the paper.

Majerus signed a five-year contract with ESPN. He resigned from Utah last January due to health reasons.

Majerus said he told USC that he had signed an ESPN contract and was loyal to the network after it had gone out of its way to make him feel comfortable.

"I would not leave ESPN until the end of the season, irrespective of anything that might happen," Majerus said during halftime of ESPN's Notre Dame-Indiana game. "That would be a deal breaker for me."

Bibby had five winning seasons and three NCAA appearances at USC before being fired.

Majerus has always spoken highly of the USC job but was always respectful of Bibby's standing as head coach. Majerus has a fondness for Southern California and recently tried to purchase a home in the area. He did buy a house in Milwaukee recently to be near his mother.

But the USC job has always been appealing to him. Garrett mentioned Majerus' name among others after Bibby was fired. Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal, a USC alumnus, is also expected to be a strong candidate for the position at season's end.

"We go after the best people," Daryl Gross, USC senior associate athletic director told the Times. "We consider him one of the best people, and we need that type of impact."

Majerus said USC is a "terrific academic school." Majerus talked about his seven academic All-Americans and his high graduation rate.

He said the academics, location and athletic success on the football field make USC a special place. But he is respectful of Saia's position.

"They have hired an interim coaching staff and given them complete authority," Majerus said. He said he didn't expect the new coach to come on board until after the season.

That is not likely to be Saia.

"I think [Saia] has a great chance to show his wares," Garrett told the Times, "but never did I say he had a chance to vie for the job.

ESPN anchor Rece Davis asked Majerus if he could pass up the USC job if offered.

"I don't know that yet, because I like coaching, I miss ... when I went to the Wake practice and I went to the Georgia Tech practice and the Michigan practice, and I saw these kids and the coaches putting them through the drills, I really missed the coaching part of it," Majerus said. "I have enjoyed the analysis, and like Dickie V says, 'I've won 'em all'; my winning percentage has really gone up on the set there.

"I just am in a quandary, though, and [the talks with USC have] been very preliminary. And I can't be much more thorough than that with you."

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

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