First, a disclaimer.
This is a UCLA blog.
Let's get that straight. Let's also understand this: Every collegiate athletics fan lives by a few rules. One of those rules is knowing your rival nearly as much as you know your own team. While USC fans tend to play this off as an "obsession," their inability to understand what their rivals do makes them an inherently bad rival; not "I hate those guys" bad, but in essence, they suck the fun out of the rivalry. (Although it's not like all that matters; the average UCLA fan likely watches more USC hoops than the average USC fan does; chalk it up to t-shirt fandom.)
But this post isn't about them. Disclaimer over.
It's about the new head coach in Los Angeles that everyone's talking about, but no one's criticizing. The head coach that captured the hearts of millions by taking a less-than-mid-major school to an improbable Sweet Sixteen.
Yes, that would be new USC head basketball coach Andy Enfield, he of "Dunk City" fame.
If you've been living under a rock, then you've missed the national media's laughable swooning over USC's hiring of Enfield. Yes, the same national media that lambasted UCLA for firing a head coach that had put together one of the worst stretches in UCLA hoops history in his last five years.
"What a hire!" they say. "He's perfect! USC has arrived!" they exclaim.
Of course, we'll see the hilarious rationalization at work that Enfield is a good hire at USC. The same national media members that wanted Howland as lifetime coach at UCLA were consistent in their idiocy by lauding the hire.
Despite the fact that Enfield's résumé consists almost solely of his two-game winning streak, a streak that, when looked at beyond the context of an NCAA tournament, isn't all that impressive. Indeed, Georgetown, Florida Gulf Coast's first victim in the tournament, has had some troubling issues in the first weekend of NCAA tournaments recently. Their second opponent, San Diego State, didn't find themselves in the tournament until their Mountain Western Conference tourney run. Had the Aztecs lost to Boise State to open up conference tournament play, they may not have made it to the Dance.
Of course, that two-game résumé is largely discounted by his awful record against NCAA tournament teams in the regular season. Aside from a win over Miami early on — a win that was largely aided by the fact that the Hurricanes were missing key players — Enfield's Eagles lost by an average of 18 points to NCAA tournament teams in the regular season. All while finishing second in the bottom-tier Atlantic Sun conference, going just 13-5. All this, while finishing under .500 on the season the year prior. For a coach that has made the jump to a high-major school from universally unknown FGCU, you'd think he'd have a bit more of a resume.
But for some reason, the hire is also universally lauded by media members and college basketball pundits alike. Because they, too, experience knee-jerk impulses, and because they, too, act on them, they've decided that Enfield is the right hire at USC, labelling Haden as a genius for reeling in a man living off 15 minutes of fame.
But no other school wanted Enfield yet. While many had become enamored with his team's style of play, and many more captivated by his team's underdog status, none had seriously considered him as the next great coach of a major program. While you may think this is exclusive to college basketball bluebloods such as UCLA, that'd be a false assumption. For the most part, Minnesota fans expressed relief that the Gophers wouldn't be the team that swallows the Enfield Pill, the team that fell for Enfield's flashy, bang-y two-game winning streak.
And that's coming from a fan-base that has arguably had less success than the USC Trojans have.
Perhaps the only real argument to justify the hire was the "why not? It's USC" argument. Indeed, as Bloguin's own Aaron Torres wrote, you don't need to have any sort of real success at USC to be retained. All you need is to middle about, earn a few NCAA tournament appearances once in awhile, and no one will bother you.
And if we're honest? That's about as far as the success of the hire goes.
Because UCLA wouldn't touch the guy with a 15-foot pole, not until he's had a few more NCAA tournament appearances under his belt at a real mid-major program. While the hiring of Steve Alford lacked buzz, and has recently come with controversy, it's not as if hiring Enfield was anything close to better. Rather, UCLA hiring Enfield would've been a disaster, a trainwreck. Had UCLA hired Enfield, the national media wouldn't be so entrenched with the idea as they have been with USC hiring Enfield. No, we would've heard the likes of CBS Sports clowns like Seth Davis rant on about how Enfield is rock bottom for UCLA, how our "unreasonable expectations" landed us a coach living off 15 minutes of fame.
USC went with an unproven coach at a small, anonymous school.
USC rolled with a coach whose wife is hotter than FGCU hoops has ever been under Enfield.
USC went with a ballsy hire, and the likelihood of it paying off is slim to none.
And while we deal with the national media's fawning over the hire, we can laugh comfortably, knowing USC hoops will remain irrelevant for at least another three years.