The USC coaching search is officially a “mess now.”
That’s just the bottom line; there’s no other way to look at it, it’s officially become a joke. I mean it’s ironic, that today is the advent of the NBA playoffs, and a new NBA champion will be crowned in less time than it will take the Trojans to name a new coach.
Something is wrong, off-putting about that.
How did this happen?
Well, one would assume it’s combination of just bad luck, an unforeseen quagmire, or a combination of the two. However, that’s not the case — at all.
It’s simple: women’s basketball is not a priority for USC, which is disappointing, as the university has a rich, and very powerful legacy, steep in unbelievable past glory.
Which has perplexed many who have spoken seriously with the Trojans. Some of the candidates that were a part of the initial interview process, felt lowballed by the compensation package: $350,000, according to sources.
New Illinois head coach Nancy Fahey, who came from DIII Washington-St. Louis, is getting $500,000 her first year.
Let’s look at another football school, with a strong brand name: University of Florida. Guess what their new coach Cam Newbauer is getting after spending 4 years at Belmont?
You guessed it: $500,000!
But, I digress, let’s continue down the plight of this search. USC SWA Dr. Donna C. Heinel is in charge of this search, and has really done a good job, doing her best to have this quest completed in a timely fashion. If it was up to her, the position would’ve been filled weeks ago.
She has an able, and willing candidate in Associate Head Coach Beth Burns, who would gladly accept the position, so why isn’t she in charge of the Women of Troy?
Ahhhh, glad you inquired. It’s because of AD Lynn Swann. Yes, the famed Lynn Swann, who was named AD last year. However, here’s the conundrum: Swann didn’t want Burns, feeling she was too connected to the previous staff. So, Heinel focused on Stanford’s Associate Head Coach Kate Paye.
And from all accounts, many assumed that Paye would be the next coach of the Trojans, evidenced by USC waiting until after the Final Four to interview Paye. But, she ended up turning the position down, which led USC to scramble to their next tier of candidates.
After USC’s search was well past 30 days, they focused their attention on FGCU’s Karl Smesko and Long Beach State’s Jody Wynn, who happens to be an alum, former player and assistant coach with the Trojans – remember that, as we’ll circle back to this.
They reached out to both candidates during the week of 10th, but here’s another botch in this scenario. There was no sense of urgency to meet with both until this past week. Why?
Simple, Swann was at the Masters.
I was talking to a media friend that works for CBS, and I asked him about his time at the Masters, and it’s ironic how a simple question, can lead to A LOT of answers.
Simple question: “What are you doing?”
Him: “In the CBS tent with the likes of Lynn Swann.”
Me: “Lynn Swann is in Augusta? But he needs to be in LA, as he needs to secure his women’s basketball coach — the search has been going on too long.”
You don’t want to hear his response, but let’s just say, Swann didn’t seem overly concerned.
So back to this week, they interviewed both with Smesko being USC’s top choice. Per sources, this didn’t sit well with Wynn, who had informed them that she was a finalist for Washington when they reached out to her, so Wynn chose to go where she felt truly wanted, and go to another Pac-12 team.
YES, Trojans fans, Wynn wanted to — and would’ve — come home.
And Smesko surprised many in this industry, and decided to stay at FGCU. However, FGCU is a place that he literally built from scratch; he has a special affinity for that university, a rare bond that comes when you are the program-founding coach.
Where does USC go from here?
Who knows? If Swann gives Heinel autonomy to do her job, she will have this search completed fairly soon, as she’s very comfortable with the remaining 5-6 choices. One name to watch is Duquesne's Dan Burt, according to multiple sources. Another name that was mentioned: Cheryl Miller.
Who knows when this will all pan out?
Someone sent this funny tweet to our team:
Couldn’t agree more. As Swann would do in this situation: “Golf clap.”