March 13, 2013

I’ve tried to ignore it since midseason, because it is rather silly. Still, the storyline is getting a little more play so I guess it’s time to write a bit about the idea that Coach Jamie Dixon would take the USC job.

Is it possible?

Well, sure, most things are possible. But it isn’t very probable.

Last week. Last week — mind you — Jeff Goodman at CBS Sports wrote about USC talking to Syracuse’s coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins. In writing up the potential of Hopkins, Goodman noted who the guy USC AD Pat Haden had at the top of his list.

The hip pick is Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon returning to the West Coast (that’s where he’s from). The 47-year-old Dixon is set to go to his ninth NCAA tournament in 10 seasons since taking over for Howland. It could happen, but Dixon has had other opportunities to leave — including one before Kevin O’Neill took the USC job three years ago — and has spurned them all. The USC program is in a better place now, and Pittsburgh is headed into a stacked ACC, so it makes more sense for him to head west now than it did a few years back. However, the question becomes his buyout and whether he’d actually pull the trigger when the time comes to make a decision.

Dixon, from what I’m told, sits atop Haden’s list.

The themes are all hit. Heading to a new conference. The ACC is stacked. He’s from the west coast. USC isn’t quite the dumpster fire it was three years ago. The one thing it doesn’t try to claim: that Dixon wants to take the USC job.

On the flip side, it is not like the Big East was a small-time basketball conference with little competition. If anything with Pitt, Syracuse and ND heading to the ACC it is about the same. Sub out UConn for Duke. UNC for Georgetown. Miami for Marquette… You get the picture. While USC isn’t as bad as it was, it still isn’t a good job with a football fanbase. Yes, he’s from the West Coast, but he’s now lived in Pittsburgh for 14 years and has turned down opportunities going back to 2006 to go west.

The piece as it relates to Dixon really only notes that USC wants Dixon. Again, not a surprise just more confirmation.

But Monday, The Big Lead tweeted out the rumor, with a little extra.

Apparently he got an earful from Pitt fans telling him it was crap so he put out a full post.

At this juncture, I’m hearing Dixon is the primary target of the search firm advising USC AD Pat Haden on the hire. Although it hasn’t been confirmed anywhere (I tried the USC athletic department, no dice), Korn/Ferry is supposedly working with Haden on the hire, and leading the charge is Jed Hughes.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Hughes recently did the Jets’ GM search, and he’s a former NFL assistant coach for, among other teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hughes lives in Pittsburgh, and apparently knows Dixon well. The word on the street is that Dixon wants to get back to the West Coast, and even Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News speculated that there’s some trepidation on Dixon’s part about joining the loaded ACC next year.

It’s a bit of connecting dots, and I’ve yet to read anyone other than the Big Lead say Dixon wants to go back west.

As for the Mike DeCourcy piece he cites, that was written in September 2011 — right after news broke that Pitt was heading to the ACC. So, for starters he’s citing a piece that is 18 months, and a full coaching carousel cycle old. To say nothing of the fact that the DeCourcy piece was part of a string of “sky is falling” pieces from basketball writers on expansiopocolypse when the Big East got hit.

As I said back then, it was a reactionary piece. It wasn’t well thought out or researched. Purely hypothetical. And now it is being used as support 18 months later to say that Dixon wants to take the USC job.

Now keep in mind, nearly three years ago the Big Lead pushed that Jamie Dixon was going to take the Oregon job. Dixon will listen to offers. He always listens. I have no problem with that.

He’ll probably get a raise and extension. Ray Fittipaldo of the P-G has hinted this season that Dixon has not liked requirements that he play a certain number of home games in the non-con to ensure profitability at the Pete. That, however, has hindered his efforts to schedule better opponents. Perhaps that gets revisited. I have no problem with that. That’s the way the game is played.

I also look forward to Mark Madden’s big scoop from his inside sources next week on how Dixon is heading to USC.

I’ve always said that the only way Dixon leaves is because he decides he can’t get to the next level here. That’s a real concern, but you don’t make that kind of decision off the cuff because you’re pissed about conference realignment. I’m not sure USC has the hoops cachet to lure a guy like Dixon – the scenario would have to be much more clear cut. Almost perfect.

Its a real concern – clearly there are places where the talent base is richer than it is for Pitt. But, never forget that the crucible that comes along with a high profile teams and talent is unforgiving. You want the KY job? Better get to the Final Four in a few years. I’m shocked that Howland has lasted as long as he has at UCLA; I have no explanation for it other than coller/saner heads prevailed. Leave this stuff to the boosters/alum and you’ve got a new coach every 2-3 years.

Also, you have to factor in the “commodity” factor: Dixon’s stock is high and will remain so unless he tanks a couple fo seasons. If Pitt would have choked this year, I’m guessing his market value would have taken a hit. As it stands, he looks like a genius. Some of it will come down to what Dixon sees in the future from a recruiting/talent perspective. As long as he has the means to compete at a high level, there’s no penalty for waiting for that “perfect gig”. Spend a few years in purgatory, however, and he’ll have to reconsider his position in a hurry.

In short: I don’t think USC is worth it unless his heart strings are tugging hard for home. It’s just not worth it. USC may not be in the toilet, but they are far from name-brand basketball at this point. A different Big East/American Pie job? Been there, done that. No need to re-establish yourself in the same market. Make some noise in the ACC? Now that might just be worth a street upgrade to “buy”. Roy Williams isn’t getting any younger 🙂

Comment by thestumper 03.13.13 @ 8:49 pm

Feb 26, 2013 – “Pitt doesn’t have a team, they have a PROGRAM” -Jay Bilas

Dixon isn’t leaving!!! Everyone is right about the comparisons to USC, we are flat out on a different level! Better conference, better facility, better fan base and I would argue better recruiting since we have the NYC connection but also the ACC now! I will totally blame smiley for this one if it were to happen. But I think we have a better shot of falling in a sinkhole…..too early for that one? Dixon loves Pittsburgh and we love him. The people that call for his head every year are idiots! Look at what he has done for this PROGRAM as Bilas called us! Squash the orange and let’s go Pitt!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 03.13.13 @ 9:01 pm

A postcard from Herb Pope….

link to

Comment by Jackagain 03.13.13 @ 9:21 pm

To your point, stumper, success breeds success. Jamie’s worked long and hard to build a program at Pitt-going to a lesser program (and I count USC as such) would be a huge step down. Unless he’s masochistic, or really enjoys rebuilding entire sports’ programs, I would think he wouldn’t leave unless it was an offer to set him up the remainder of his life.

Staying at Pitt, and in the ACC, he’s got a program. He can add or subtract single pieces based on his perceived needs-he doesn’t have to hope for a piecemeal re-build, hoping the right players come available. He also knows the routine (will soon know the teams) really well. There’s a lot to like.

Comment by Lou 03.13.13 @ 9:34 pm

Wbb, it would be interesting to correlate that chart with wins and losses.

Comment by gc 03.13.13 @ 9:49 pm

I love Dixon, but could care less if he leaves. As FrankCan says, Miller Time baby! John, Archie and Sean.

Comment by Howard 03.13.13 @ 9:57 pm

So, if Dixon leaves, it probably means we’re not willing to pay him enough to come close to another offer. So, why would Pedie now decide it’s time to pay up for Miller?

Comment by panther94 03.13.13 @ 10:22 pm

Any thoughts on that Howard?

Comment by panther94 03.13.13 @ 10:24 pm

Would it be Knight time?

Comment by panther94 03.13.13 @ 10:26 pm

I’m sure Miller would take a hometown discount given the opportunity to coach Pitt. Like Dixon but not too concerned over whether he stays or goes. Pitt should be able to attract a pretty good coach at this point. Agree with post above about his style probably not meshing with PAC 12 style basketball. I think both Dixon and Howland have styles that work better with workman like players. Interesting to see how the styles of Pitt and ND fare in the ACC.

Comment by Floyd 03.13.13 @ 11:06 pm

Attract a good coach based on what…what Dixon accomplished? What else?

Comment by panther94 03.13.13 @ 11:12 pm

Dixon inherited a pretty good program from Howland. I think he parlayed that into landing one of the top coaching jobs in all of basketball. Pitt is bigger than Dixon. The Pete is a great place to play and Pitt basketball has a rabid fan base and is headed into the best basketball conference. Pitt can definitely attract a good coach.

Comment by Floyd 03.13.13 @ 11:31 pm

Oh my goodness.
Bethune-Cookman (7-9 MEAC) beat Norfolk St. (16-0) in OT.

And Cinci won and Villanova won.

Any little bit to help Pitt’s seeding in the NCAAs.

Comment by xfmrman 03.14.13 @ 12:28 am

I’m so sick of these stupid rumors. Dixon would’ve left for USC, Arizona and Oregon by now if he wanted to leave Pitt

Comment by TonyC 03.14.13 @ 1:22 am

Panther94… Knight time would be awesome!

Just think… the Zoo could wear all black and the lights to everything but the floor could be off at all times. What you end up with is a (not so great for tv) amazing effect where the darkness is literally speaking to you. And the darkness wants Pitt to win.

Comment by Benzene 03.14.13 @ 1:39 am

Nice article from over a month ago in the PittNews about Dixon:
link to
Basically everything we have been saying.

I was looking at coaching salaries and they are all over the place. Dixon at 1.6 million, Miller at 2.6 million, Buzz Williams at almost 3 million and Mark Few at a ridiculously low 1 million.

It’s definitely Miller time if Dixon leaves. I’m sure could find the money to pay a Pitt man, plus a lot more revenue is coming in with the ACC.

But if not Miller, Knight time could work. At first I was going to say Knight graduated when I did so he’s too young to be head coach. But then I realized that my 2nd choice after Miller is Shaka Smart and he’s only in his mid 30s.

Comment by Wardapalooza 03.14.13 @ 6:58 am

the most daunting thing about USC is that they could have unlimited access to bootie if they tip over a couple of boosters w the “this is our once in a lifetime guy” rap. funny, classic football uniforms untouched. brand ID as good as any in ncaa. if they want a coach, money is just a thing. my point is that, while not a “blue blood” hoops program, they are an institution that can certainly make someone an offer they couldnt refuse. Their geographic location undoubtedly provides additional bootie in the back. Cash can make a lot of those obstacles (Howland, Conference, Buy-out )go away. They have a pretty charismatic AD who I could see laying down the rap flanked by a stable of Hollywood boosters. Thats the only reason why I give these rumors a second thought.

Comment by ptbreezeb 03.14.13 @ 7:50 am

@wardapalooza – I think Oliver Purnell at DePaul is at $4 million. I’m not going to do the math to see what that works out to per win.

Comment by Pitt Dad 03.14.13 @ 9:34 am

As mentioned by the Pitt fan from Dallas it is the coach not the program kids go to. Pitt has no natural recruiting area, neither does Kentucky, Syracuse, Conneticut. They come for the coach.
With the right replacement losing Dixon could bump Pitt over the hump. Actually Pittsburgh beats Lexington, Tuscon, Storrs, Syracuse, Louisville to live .
For God’s sake not Brandon Knight. High profile coach from the area who might take less money to return home.
Miller has shown he is a much better recruiter than Dixon and a better floor coach. If Pitt could get him I would donate to buy out Dixon not because he is not a good coach but he has hit his ceiling.
Finally to the Adams nay-sayers taht say he did not live up to his expectations. How do you explain going from 17w and 16l to 25w and 7losses.
Woodall, Moore, Zanna, and Patterson improved considerably.
Watching Adams hesitate at the lane rather than immediately taking the shot or driving to the hoop kills me. Dixon has emasculated him and Robinson. Defining their roles not expecting any offense.
Because of Adams personality and lack of playing experience if his coach is always making excuses for his offense he loses his confidence that showed when he humiliated the top college center at the summer addidas and Noels at Prep school.

You can see Adams and Robinson afraid to take over they are doing what the coaching staff wants-fit in.
This is Dixon’s major problem Birch knew it, Taylor suffered through it, and you can forgert any 5 star guards coming to play for Dixon.
Come home Sean.

Comment by pittisit 03.15.13 @ 10:42 am

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