Another March, another year when Jamie Dixon is being mentioned in connection with basketball coaching vacancies. It’s the price of success and Dixon has had much of that in his 10-year run at Pitt.
That is comes as the Panthers ready to play their first game in the NCAA tournament might once have been a distraction. But Pitt has been down this road many times.
This time, though, the job in question isn’t Arizona State or Oregon, coaching vacancies with which Dixon has been connected in the past. This time the job is in his home town. There’s a vacancy at USC, a school with a middling basketball reputation but one that is an athletic powerhouse within the NCAA.
What’s more, there might be a vacancy at UCLA, the bluest of blue blood basketball programs, and that could impact on Dixon.
Dixon casually dismissed the reports without so much as a reaffirmation of his desire to stay at Pitt. He told reporters in Salt Lake City, where Pitt plays Wichita State this afternoon at 1:40:
``I guess it's the time of year things like that get talked about. We don't talk about other jobs. I don't think it's the right thing to do.''
It was the classic non-denial denial and at one time would have served to give some heft to the rumors that Dixon will replace Kevin O’Neill, who was fired in mid-season, at USC. But such nonchalance is a fairly common practice these days by coaches.
This is a complicated issue because the coach still on the job at UCLA is Ben Howland, who is Dixon’s predecessor at Pitt, mentor and friend.
The long-held belief Dixon would not take a job in the Pac-12 because he did not relish competing against Howland might no longer be on the table. Howland’s job status might well be determined by how the Bruins do in the tournament where they play Minnesota in their first game. A loss to 11-seeded Minnesota or in the next round could end Howland’s era at UCLA.
And make the Pac-12 look more inviting to Dixon.
One West Coast report has this scenario: Howland being fired; Dixon taking the USC job; Howland taking the Pitt job.
Stranger things have happened.