A very interesting hire for USC as it was never really reported that O’Neill was going to be a candidate for the head coaching job. The consensus was that USC would attempt at attracting a coach with a big name and possibly with NBA experience.
O’Neill does have some NBA experience and a head coach at the college level, but lacks the strong name that many were expecting to be hired. O’Neill’s experience in the NBA is not the best looking resume, a short stint with the Toronto Raptors in 2004.
In the Pac-10 it is somewhat ironic to see O’Neill hired as only two years ago he was the interim head coach for Arizona as the Lute Olson fiasco began down in Tucson. Arizona was able to make the tournament under O’Neill, although many cried foul with their 19-15 record.
O’Neill is regarded as a very tough coach, so in the aspect of turning around the USC program with discipline (somewhat similar to Tyrone Willingham here at Washington for football, although we saw how that turned out) he could potentially be a great hire for USC.
But turning around the Trojan basketball program will be tough.
I best remember O’Neill as the head coach of the Marquette program. Not because I remember watching them play, but as soe of you may remember he played a significant role in the film “Hoop Dreams” as he recruited one of the central figures in the movie, William Gates.
It is an interesting hire for a program that everyone believes should be better than what it has produced for a long time. O’Neill faces a daunting task, but if does it right, big things could happen in Los Angeles.