Pat Haden made his first big move today, firing fourth-year head coach Kevin O’Neill just two days after a 17-point victory over the Utah Utes. The move has prompted seemingly dozens of names to be thrown into the proverbial hat, with former Virginia Tech Hokies head man Seth Greenberg being reportedly interested in the job, according to Scott Schrader of 247Sports.
While at Virginia Tech until the end of the 2011-2012 season, Greenberg’s Hokies made just one NCAA Tournament appearance, and they never had fewer than six losses in one of the nation’s most elite conferences. The Hokies finished tied for third twice under Greenberg, including in 2007 when they defeated the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels, the same team that knocked USC out in the Sweet Sixteen that year.
A New York native, Greenberg began his coaching career down the road from USC at Long Beach State, leading the 49ers to two NCAA Tournament appearances in the mid-1990s. Following a Big West title in 1996, Greenberg left for South Florida, then of Conference USA, where he failed to make the tournament in seven years, despite two NIT bids.
While Greenberg’s resume is solid as a competitive college basketball coach, but with the opportunities that Pat Haden has at hand, Greenberg’s credentials fall more in line as being a lateral, safe hire.
USC has options. It’s the first time that the Trojans’ job has opened since both the Galen Center has been open and new television deals with the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN have been put into place.
After Henry Bibby was fired in 2005, the Trojans went out and made a big splash with Rick Majerus, who ultimately spurned USC with a change of heart. But he, like Tim Floyd, were bigger fish than the Trojans were used to, as Bibby had made the Trojans relevant again.
Floyd built on Bibby’s success and made USC a destination for one-and-dones like O.J. Mayo and DeMar Derozan, but his NCAA violations put Mike Garrett behind the eight ball when looking to replace him, forcing the safe hire of O’Neill. After O’Neill was passed up on the opportunity to replace Lute Olsen at Arizona, he fit perfectly as a high character leader for USC midst self-imposed sanctions.
Now, four years after Floyd’s departure, USC can finally look back into reeling in a big fish again, without concerns of having a shady program and with the benefit of both additional revenue streams and facilities. With Los Angeles being a hotbed for recruiting, there’s no reason the Trojans can’t make a big play, more impactful than Greenberg.