With their pending hires, UCLA and USC will join traditional lower-division Pac-12 program Washington State with the most permanent basketball coaches since the conference became the Pac-10 in 1978.
They will each have hired eight different permanent coaches, double the amount of Arizona, which was bolstered by Lute Olson’s 24 years as head coach.
Former UCLA great Bill Walton said Monday night during ESPN’s broadcast of the Mercer-BYU NIT game that the Trojans and Bruins are the flagship programs of the conference. The Pac-12 is actually better off not following their practice of hiring and firing coaches.
The Bruins have fired their last four coaches, including Ben Howland on Sunday after his 10-year run. USC has fired three of its last four coaches, including former UA assistant and interim head coach Kevin O’Neill on Jan. 14. The one USC coach who was not fired in that span — Tim Floyd — resigned under pressure in 2009 amid alleged NCAA violations.
While the USC and UCLA coaching carousel continues to spin, Stanford is holding on — for now — to Johnny Dawkins, who has not taken the Cardinal to the NCAA tournament in his five years at Palo Alto. Stanford remains the only program since the Pac-10 formed in 1978 to not fire a basketball coach, although the Cardinal forced Dick DiBiaso to resign in 1981.
All of the other original Pac-10 teams — Colorado and Utah excluded — have fired at least one coach in the last 35 years.