A USC Basketball Coaching Job Applicant’s Opinion On The Hiring Of Andy Enfield
Well, you had to figure it was going to happen sooner rather than later: Andy Enfield, fresh off leading Florida Gulf Coast to the finest NCAA Tournament run a 15 seed ever had, would get job offers at much bigger (and better-paying) programs. And unsurprisingly, he jumped on one – he’s the new head coach at USC. While I congratulate Enfield on all his success and the new gig he parlayed that success into, this is also a bit of a personal matter for me. Why? I was one of the applicants Enfield beat out for the job.
Loyal SportsGrid readers might remember this post from January, wherein I announced my candidacy for the job I ultimately did not get. While I felt good about my chances at the time, I can’t say I’m shocked that Enfield ultimately beat me, and all other candidates, out. And now, with the process over, I think it’s only appropriate to evaluate USC’s decision. So, without further ado: a tale of the tape between USC coaching candidates: Andy Enfield and Glenn Davis.
Experience: Well, I have to admit – Enfeld has me beat in this category. He just took a small school to the Sweet 16 – I’ve never done that. I’ve never taken any school to the Sweet 16. In fact, I’ve never coached a basketball team. Additionally, Enfield’s served as an assistant at Florida State and in the NBA. While sometimes a relative newcomer succeeds on a big stage and the success is at least partially attributed to how they’re not feeling the pressure because they haven’t been there before and don’t know what it’s like to fail in big moments – both of which certainly apply to me – I understand that Enfield’s experience in coaching a successful team is a positive. Advantage: Enfield.
Outside-the-box thinking: Let’s break this down from both a candidate and USC perspective. As an outsider in the coaching world, I would have necessarily brought an outside-the-box approach to the table. While Enfield doesn’t have much experience in the head coaching ranks (two years), he’s been in basketball long enough to inevitably pick up some coaching conventions along the way.
As for USC thinking outside the box: Enfield isn’t necessarily a natural candidate for them. He doesn’t have roots on the west coast – his coaching experience in college game is all in Florida. This could lead to a Florida-to-USC prospect pipeline that might not have existed otherwise. And again, while Enfield is the hot coaching name of the moment – which is as in-the-box as splashy new hires get – he’s also only been a head coach for two years, and at a small school. A bit risky for a name school like USC. Still, it doesn’t get more outside the box than a guy who’s never coached before. Imagine how fresh my perspective would be. Advantage: me.
Playing style: In my USC cover letter, I promised “aggressive, attacking basketball at both ends of the floor.” Enfield released a statement upon accepting the USC job that mentioned his plans to install “an exciting, up-tempo style of play” – reasonable to expect, given how FGCU played. So we’re on the same page there. Advantage: wash.
Candidacy promotional video: I made this:
As far as I know, Enfield didn’t make a video. Advantage: me.
Miscellaneous non-basketball hype: My youth (I’m 25) and lack of traditional experience would undoubtedly get USC much attention, but I admit not all of it would be positive. Enfield’s hiring, on the other hand, will undoubtedly bring about a whole new round of coverage of his ex-model wife. Most likely, no one will have anything bad to say about that. Slight edge: Enfield.
Overall: While I will of course always be a staunch defender of my candidacy, I can reluctantly see why USC decided to go in a different direction. Enfield was on pretty much no one’s radar before the NCAAs, but that doesn’t mean he simply earned the gig with a couple impressive upset wins – Enfield’s career has been building to a moment like this for years now. His success isn’t guaranteed, but success as USC’s basketball coach isn’t guaranteed, period – while it’s certainly possible to win there, having to compete with one of America’s most storied programs right across town complicates matters a good deal. If Enfield can get his USC teams to play like this year;s FGCU squad did, he’ll win a lot of games there. Much as it pains me to say it, I’m not sure USC could have done better – even had they hired me.
Still, note to Pat Haden: I hope you’ll be keeping my name on file.