USC hires Kevin O'Neill; fans don't seem thrilled
Trojan fans hope to eat their tweets, but their initial reaction to Kevin O'Neill's hire as USC's new men's basketball coach seems to be less than enthusiastic. You can find a sample of comments below. O'Neill has a 30-year track record in coaching and has been successful in rebuilding lackluster programs, but doesn't have the name brand that the school might have hoped for.
Pete Carroll is getting a lot of credit for "breaking" the story via Twitter, though anybody who actually reads all 140 characters (or fewer) will notice that he linked back to a USC news release, which is how the story really broke.
O'Neill was direct in his initial statement and indicated that he questioned the administration about the current state of the program -- which is facing an NCAA investigation -- and was satisfied with what he heard from Athletic Director Mike Garrett and President Steven Sample. O'Neill acknowledged that people will second-guess his decision to take the job. As you'll see from the Internet buzz, it's really the school being second-guessed for hiring him.
But maybe USC didn't have much of an option. Jamie Dixon, Reggie Theus, Jeff Van Gundy and Lon Kruger all reportedly turned down the job, making O'Neill the school's fifth choice at best. P.J. Carlesimo, Jim Cleamons, and Brian Shaw had also been mentioned as possible candidates.
A USC spokesperson confirmed this is not considered an interim hire, which surprised this writer. Terms of the contract, including length, have not been released. O'Neill may ultimately prove just to be a stopgap measure. But, hey, anything can happen in sports. Carroll certainly wasn't the choice for the football job.
On to the juicy stuff. From the rocky response on Twitter:
- phillyfoley: "Wow Mike Garrett, first you throw Floyd under the bus for the Mayo ordeal then you replace him with KEVIN FREKIN' O'NEILL?!? Horrible hire."
- slmandel: "Kevin O'Neill??? Seriously, USC? Seriously??? As Jerry Seinfeld once said: 'Good luck with all THAT..'"
- coacheddieusa: "Kevin O'Neill? Is he the Answer to the Trojans Basketball Program? I think they missed badly on this one."
- joshcohron: "Supposedly this isn't a joke, USC hired Kevin O'Neill to coach their basketball team. Winning is no longer a priority in Los Angeles."
- protowelstomper: "How does Kevin O'Neill keep getting head coaching jobs? Obviously past performance is not a consideration."
And some select comments on Facebook:
- "Couldnt believe it when I saw it. . . . Garrett has got to go."
- "Kevin O'Neill, What is USC thinking? Hmm, penalties are coming and it's better to have a lame duck coach/program for a couple years until everything is cleaned up."
- "USC just hired former U of A Asst Kevin O' Neil as Mens BB Head Coach. Seriously? That's the best we could do?"
- "USC, can you please at least try and make it look like you care about the basketball team? Kevin O'Neill? Wow."
-- Adam Rose
Photo: Kevin O'Neill with Arizona in 2007. Credit: John Miller / Associated Press