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The Trojans made a coaching change at midseason. Who could be the next coach at Southern Cal?
The job of finding a new basketball coach at USC just got a little more difficult for athletic director Pat Haden.
The Trojans fired Kevin O’Neill -- hired to shepherd the program after Tim Floyd was fired amid NCAA sanctions -- midseason. Any advantages of getting ahead of the curve may have diminished when USC suddenly became the No. 2 vacant college job in its own city when UCLA fired Ben Howland.
USC is something of a sleeping giant, especially with a new arena and plush facilities. But the Trojans are a football-first program, and after recruiting violations surrounding O.J. Mayo put the program on probation, Haden won’t be able to gamble on a coach with NCAA baggage.
POTENTIAL CANDIDATES AT USC
Gib Arnold, Hawaii
If USC is interested in revisiting the Tim Floyd era, it could take a look at Arnold, an assistant at USC for five seasons. In three seasons at Hawaii -- a struggling basketball program when he arrived -- he went 14-16 in the WAC and 10-8 in his first season in the Big West.
Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s
Bennett has built the Gaels into a perennial challenger for Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference. But for all he’s accomplished, he’s yet to grab a major conference job. That will be tougher -- especially as far as USC is concerned -- after Saint Mary’s was hit for sanctions for recruiting violations. Bennett was suspended for five games in 2013-14 for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance after an assistant was found committing major recruiting violations.
Bob Cantu, USC interim coach
Cantu went 7-8 as interim coach, including wins over UCLA and Arizona. The Trojans were 7-10 when Kevin O’Neill was fired.
Mike Hopkins, Syracuse assistant
He’s been an assistant at Syracuse for 18 seasons. And though he’s been acknowledged as a possible successor for Jim Boeheim, Hopkins has been in the mix for other openings and some not as high-profile as USC.
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
After 15 seasons at Winthrop and Wichita State, maybe it’s surprising Marshall hasn’t moved to one of the major conferences yet. After three consecutive seasons of 27 or more wins, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances at Wichita State and a Sweet 16 berth, now may be the time to jump.
Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State
Menzies’ name has cropped up for openings before, including Colorado State before last season. A former Rick Pitino assistant at Louisville, Menzies also spent time as an assistant at USC and San Diego State. He’s never won an outright conference title with the Aggies, but reached the NCAA Tournament three times by winning the WAC Tournament.
Josh Pastner, Memphis
He was mentioned as an early candidate, but he signed a long-term deal to stay with the Tigers.
Leon Rice, Boise State
A former Gonzaga assistant under Mark Few, Rice led Boise State to its first at-large NCAA Tournament bid in school history after going 9-7 in a difficult Mountain West. That came a year after the Broncos went 3-11 and tied for last place in their first season in the league.
Shaka Smart, VCU
The 35-year-old will be a hot name in the coaching carousel again after the 2011 Final Four and a seamless transition to the Atlantic 10. All indications are Smart is happy at VCU. After all, he turned down Illinois last season.
Buzz Williams, Marquette
After reaching the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons, Williams will be a hot commodity in the carousel. The Golden Eagles have been among the best teams in the Big East despite losing Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, and Williams has proven he can unearth talent on the recruiting trail. He turned down opportunities last season to stay with the program that rolled the dice on him five years ago.