NCAA Basketball: Why the USC Trojans Should Hire Ben Howland

Charles Bennett@chasbennettonbrSenior Analyst IMarch 24, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 22:  Head coach Ben Howland of the UCLA Bruins watches his team play the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Frank Erwin Center on March 22, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Word leaked late yesterday that the cleaver is going to fall on UCLA Bruins coach Ben Howland after ten seasons.

Meanwhile, the basketball program across town has been floundering, with coach Kevin O'Neill being disposed of mid-season and interim coach Bob Cantu going 8-10 to end the season. 

Against teams that made the NCAA Tournament, the Trojans were a disappointing 3-9.  They weren't able to snag a single one of the 100 best recruits in the nation. The Trojans haven't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2009, they haven't had a season of nine or fewer losses since 1999.

The USC Trojans should scoop up Howland at the earliest possible opportunity.

It's not like USC has a great coach waiting in the wings.  Two weeks ago, it was reported that the Trojans met with disgraced former coach Tim Floyd about taking the reins again.  More recently, another coach on USC's radar, Pitt's Jamie Dixon, inked a long-term extension with the Panthers.

Howland is a Southern California guy: he grew up in Santa Barbara and attended Cerritos High.  For a dozen years, he was an assistant at UC Santa Barbara.

In terms of CV, Howland has done everything that USC needs a coach to do.  USC needs a coach who can win games and advance deep in the NCAA Tourney; Howland has been to three Final Fours and won more games at UCLA than anybody not named John Wooden.  USC needs a recruiter; UCLA entered this season with the nation's top recruiting class.   

A hiring of Howland would also fit with USC's habit of hiring big-name, big-money coaches.  After all, this is a school that had Pete Carroll, Michael Cooper and Kevin O'Neill on the payroll all at the same time.  Those are two former NBA head coaches and a current NFL head coach.

The icing on the cake is that a Howland hire would pull the lion's, er, bruin's tail, much in the same way the hiring by Louisville of former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino does.

Bottom line: within days after getting a pink slip from UCLA, Ben Howland should get a call from USC.

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