Reports in Los Angeles papers said this week that USC athletic director Pat Haden met recently with UTEP and former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd, and the subject was Trojan hoops.
Excuse me if this sounds thick-headed, but: Huh?
The Haden-Floyd meeting makes absolutely no sense. The Trojans have a basketball opening, and Haden, one of the strait-laced ADs around, is talking to the ex-head coach that helped get USC on probation?
Haden isn’t talking about the meeting. Floyd told the LA Times that they discussed the opening (Kevin O’Neill was fired in January and Bob Cantu is interim coach), and said it was important former players and coaches know that he talked to Haden and that, “I feel they should know that USC reached out, and that no violations were found by the NCAA with USC basketball. I felt like I got my name back when I got offered a number of jobs when I left USC.”
Then the LA Daily News quoted Floyd that the meeting was a courtesy, and not directly to discuss Floyd returning to USC, but that some boosters, including a prominent one, Wayne Hughes, were pushing for Floyd’s return as coach. The newspaper also quoted former USC coach Bob Boyd, who once coached at Seattle University, that “they should beg, borrow and steal to get Tim.”
Uh, that’s pretty much what USC allowed to happen to get O.J. Mayo — on Floyd’s watch.
Read the NCAA infractions report that combined the Reggie Bush and Mayo cases (because they were similarly agent-driven). It’s clear that while, as Floyd has maintained, he wasn’t directly penalized by the NCAA, he had a window into improprieties going on with the agent and Mayo. And his statement that “no violations were found by the NCAA with USC basketball” is splitting hairs and not a little disingenuous.
That statement must be news to the Trojans, who, as a result of the illicit activities between Mayo and the agent, self-penalized with a one-year post-season ban, a scholarship hit and reduced recruiting days on the road, as well as the vacation of all their wins that year.
This was the case that germinated when an agent walked into Floyd’s office and essentially told him that Mayo and another prospect might be interested in attending USC. That led to recruitment of Mayo. And that led, ultimately, to this paragraph in the NCAA public report on the case:
On October 11, 2006, the (USC) director of compliance told the former head men’s
basketball coach (Floyd) of his concerns regarding potential problems in the recruitment
of (Mayo). The director of compliance recommended that the basketball
coaching staff formally end the recruitment of (Mayo) given the very
public questions about (Mayo’s) amateur status and the young man’s
association with representative B (the agent) and his AAU coach. (Floyd) failed to heed the advice, and the administration took no further action.
So, the question: Why would Haden meet with Floyd? He could have done it to appease the boosters. It’s even possible that Floyd engineered it — although he didn’t portray it that way — as a way of trying to reinforce publicly that he isn’t damaged goods.
My guess is, Haden is reacting in one of two ways: Either he likes the fact it got out that he discussed the opening with Floyd to satisfy that booster faction, even as he has no intention of hiring him; or he’s livid that Floyd outed him, because the reality is, USC and Floyd is a marriage that’s impossible to imagine being re-enacted. Floyd and Lane Kiffin in the same athletic department?
Among the gifts that went to Mayo and his girlfriend and brother were cash and a $1,399 TV for the player.
What did USC get out of Mayo’s services in that one year (2007-08)? A double-digit loss to Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Nice return on the investment.