Will Dixon be interested in USC?
By Chris Dokish
If Tim Floyd accepts the job at Arizona, the USC job suddenly becomes available. It's no secret that Jamie Dixon's name has already been mentioned predominantly. For years Dixon has been reportedly been trying to get back to the west coast, even though he has never said that himself. In fact, his only public comments about the west coast is that his ties to that area are exaggerated, even though his parents do live there. But more on that in a second.
First let's look at the programs. There is little doubt that Pitt is more successful as a basketball program over the last decade. But that doesn't necessarily mean Pitt has more potential. In fact, despite USC treating their basketball program almost as an afterthought, it has been successful on the court. Many consider it a sleeping giant that will only be awoken by the right coach. Dixon has that ability. But that's only if USC suddenly sees the value in their basketball program. Floyd was reportedly making a relatively paltry $850,000. Six months ago, Dixon received an extension that, by all accounts, moved his salary in the range of 1.5 million. Included in that, according to a source close to the situation, is a sizable buyout clause.
This means that, even if Dixon was interested, USC would have to offer him more than twice as much as they had given Floyd. That may be a tall order for a school that already pays Pat Carroll more than 4 million a season.
Even knowing that USC is a sleeping giant, and assuming for the sake of argument that USC would pay Dixon a large salary, plus a substantial buyout, Dixon would still have to leave behind a program that routinely wins 25+ games a year in the marquee conference in the country, all to be the second best program in Los Angeles. Plus, Dixon has admitted, without prodding, that his relationship with University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg is extraordinary. Adding all of this up, it begins to look more and more like moving to USC would not be a smart move professionally.
But there is one thing that could make him change his mind, and that's what he feels emotionally. The loss of his sister Maggie was devastating not only to Dixon, but to his parents, who still reside in the Los Angeles area. In 2006, Dixon told the The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"I do worry about my parents more. Everyone tells me that there's nothing worse than a parent losing a child. As much as we talked before -- I don't know how we could talk more than before, but we do -- our conversations are different. No question. There are pauses and deep breaths. I can't get back [to Los Angeles] as much as I would like. Different things come up, birthdays, holidays. I have to get them back here as much as possible. Those are things we have to figure out."
It's that emotional factor that may have the single biggest influence on Dixon if he has to make the decision. It's something that fans on message boards and reporters can not gauge. Only Dixon can know what is in his heart and whether or not he feels like he wants to be physically closer to his family. It's no doubt a decision that he will not take lightly. But one thing is for sure. If he is offered the USC job, and turns it down, then he has said no to every major Pac-10 team, outside of UCLA, in California and Arizona, and his supposed desire to return west will have to finally be considered, once and for all, a myth.