Waiting for Howland to be gone from Westwood? - Mitchell Layton
We still have weeks to go in the current basketball season. It has been a painful one as it has become glaringly obvious that Ben Howland and UCLA need to go their separate ways. Perhaps Howland can pull off a miracle run by winning the regular season conference title, tourney title and then getting to the Final-4. But we are not going to hold our breath.
So thanks to an incompetent athletic director we are going to go through another joyless and painful basketball season with the future of Bruin hoops in limbo. Perhaps UCLA has made overtures to other coaches in the background but we are not going to pin our hopes right now on rumors flying around without anything concrete to point to. Because, if rumors were to be believe, Chris Petersen would have been named as the UCLA football coach, within days of firing of Rick Neuheisel.
Meanwhile, over at the other school, a pro-active athletic director has already fired his basketball coach and presumably is running a search (in the background) for Southern Cal's basketball coach. Scott Wolf recently wrote a piece speculating that Jamie Dixon, Howland's former lead assistant (and current Pitt head coach) is "a top candidate." Dixon to Southern Cal chatter has also been noted at the national level. That wouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone here on BN, because we discussed the possibility three years ago when Tim Floyd resigned in disgrace.
Well, lot has changed in three years. Three years ago Howland's job was lot more secure in Westwood as his inability to maintain an elite program wasn't exposed like it has been today. It seems Dixon to Southern Cal may be more of a possibility now if (or when) UCLA's Howland chapter ends at the end of this season. Perhaps Dixon would be more open to taking over the Trojan program if he doesn't get to go head to head with his former mentor.
The question is what happens if Dixon comes to Southern Cal (following departure of Howland from Westwood)? Would Pittsburgh be open to hiring back Howland? Pitt's current AD - Steve Pederson - is the same guy who had hired Howland from Northern Arizona (amusingly after being impressed with Howland's "recruit to shoot" motto from his Lumberjack days). Would he be open to hiring back the guy who rebuilt Pitt? Would Howland be open to going back to the place to re-discover his commitment to defense?
Something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.