NOTE: This article was written hours before Tim Floyd turned down the job and opted to return to USC. The author is now praying that Arizona can get someone competent to coach the Wildcats. Come on Livengood!
If the rumors are true that Tim Floyd is leaving USC to become the head men’s basketball coach at Arizona, fans in Tucson should not be worried. Sure, Floyd is no John Calipari, but once the “other” Wildcat job opened up, it was simply unrealistic to expect Calipari to choose Arizona over Kentucky, one of the few schools with a better basketball pedigree.
While rumors swirled about candidates ranging from Jeff Capel to Mark Few to Rick Pitino to Tom Izzo, it seems that Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood has settled on Tim Floyd.
In the immediate future, Floyd may be able to bring with him sorely-needed recruits for Arizona, who have been without a semblance of a recruiting class for two years and could see its roster gutted by defections.
Jordan Hill is almost certain to go pro, as he has been projected as a Top Five pick by Chad Ford of ESPN. Chase Budinger, while not as much a certainty as Hill, is more likely than not to declare as well. Point guard Nic Wise has been rumored to have his eyes set on Europe and immediate paychecks, as his weak knees require him to make the most out of what will be a shortened career.
Adding these three possible major departures to the constant rumors of transfers out of the program and two little-used graduating seniors could put Arizona in a downward spiral without immediate recruiting help. This help could come with the hiring of Tim Floyd.
Former Arizona commit Solomon Hill had been rumored to have narrowed his choices down to Arizona and USC, Floyd’s current school. Should Hill decide to come to Arizona, and possibly convince another undecided senior or two to follow, Arizona should be in good shape.
Floyd’s biggest recruiting challenge, however, will be to convince Nic Wise to stay in Tucson for his senior season. The Wildcats will be lost next year without him, as they could barely put five Pac 10-caliber players on the court, yet still advanced to the Sweet 16 due in large part to their supreme point guard play.
Should he somehow convince Budinger or Hill to follow suit, Arizona will be a major contender next year, and Floyd would likely ask to have a statue built of him next to the new Richard Jefferson Practice Facility.
When analyzing this hire, it is important to focus not only on the short-term benefits but also the long-term health of the program. The men’s basketball program is the cash cow for the University of Arizona athletic department, and Livengood cannot afford to let it suffer.
He knows this fact, and if the reports are true that Floyd will indeed be the next head coach at Arizona, Livengood has succeeded.
The Arizona position should constitute Floyd’s idea of his “career job.” The program is without question one of the best in the history of college basketball, although a step below the royalty that is Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and UCLA.
Floyd won’t be looking for his next job in two or three years, and that will only enhance his ability to recruit top-notch talent to Tucson. If he could recruit at Idaho, New Orleans, Iowa State, and USC, imagine what he can do at a national powerhouse like Arizona.
Although Arizona is not currently a top-tier team, its history and program are, and it only needs a man at the helm such as Tim Floyd to turn it around. As public opinion of Arizona seems to have dwindled in the four years since the Wildcats last made the Elite Eight, Floyd should be able to wake up the sleeping giant that is Point Guard U and return it to prominence.