Former USC director of player personnel Austin Thomas appeared on ESPN Radio in Baton Rouge Wednesday to talk about his decision to leave the Trojans for LSU after just three months.
Austin Thomas, USC’s assistant athletic director and director of player personnel who announced on Monday his return to LSU after just three months in Los Angeles, told Matt Moscona of 104.5 ESPN Radio in Baton Rouge that his decision had nothing to do with Lynn Swann’s appointment as the new Trojan athletic director.
“That had no effect at all,” Thomas said of Swann’s hiring, noting that he had known that Haden would be leaving his post even before he signed on to come back to USC. “I was actually very, very excited about Lynn Swann when he was named AD and I think he’ll do a tremendous job there.”
Instead, Thomas explained the pull of LSU playing the main role in his move back south.
“It boiled down to a couple of things, the relationships that I had here with the people, with the community, with our administration and with our coaching staff,” Thomas said. “Coach [Les] Miles did a great job of getting on the phone and really presenting this to me in a way that made me feel that this was the best opportunity for us and our career.”
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Thomas also credited LSU athletic director Joe Alleva and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron with pitching the job to him, particularly with the latter’s exceptional recruiting ability.
Though Miles didn’t immediately try to turn him back to the Tigers after his departure, he did keep in touch on a personal level, promising to be an ally for Thomas in the future. That kept lines of communication open for when the pitch eventually came around.
Taking Thomas at his word, there was little USC or Swann could have done to keep him in the fold. Now the Trojans must work on finding a replacement, though finding a rising star of Thomas’ quality will be a difficult task.