Andy Enfield may be one of the most talked-about young coaches in college basketball today. The former Florida Gulf Coast coach took the Eagles into the Sweet 16 last week, making FGCU the first No. 15 seed to ever make it that far in an NCAA Tournament.
Talks came about earlier last week that he was already getting offers from top school, one of which being Minnesota following the firing of Tubby Smith.
The former Florida State assistant coach took the job that was formerly held by Kevin O’Neill who was fired halfway through the season after a 7-10 start. The job was then given to now-former USC assistant Bob Cantu who finished the season 7-8.
This hire comes as a surprise to many, including myself, as Enfield was building up a program that had only been in Division I basketball for six years. The fact that they joined the best teams in the country six years ago and have already made a deep tournament run is impressive.
Many people will call me crazy for this, but Dunk City’s head coach made a mistake by leaving the beaches of Florida for the beaches of Southern California. He built a team that no one knew about and turned them into a team that everyone wanted to see.
He has the ability to turn this program into one that comes from nowhere to be a consistent competitor each season. I’m not saying that Enfield would have stayed at Florida Gulf Coast for a long period of time, but the more he built up the program, the better a job offer he would receive in the future.
By taking a job at a notoriously non-basketball program, Enfield is setting himself up for at least six seasons of trying to build a program up from scratch. The Trojans have not won a conference title since 1985 nor have they been to a Final Four since 1954 — yes, 60 years and no Final Four.
Sure, there’s a good possibility that Enfield will build them up a bit in the next six or so seasons, but the likelihood that he misses out on some good head coaching opportunities in the meantime is high. Time will tell how well the exuberant coach will do at USC, but he knows that he’s leaving one of the most exciting teams in college basketball that is losing just two players for a team in the cellar.
Good luck to Enfield as he will need it.