LOS ANGELES – DeMar DeRozan thought his coach’s reported interest in a gig at Arizona was an April Fools’ joke. It wasn’t, but Tim Floyd decided to stay on at Southern California, spurning an offer Thursday to become the Wildcats’ basketball coach.
“It came as a shock because we just had our banquet the night before and then we see Coach on ESPN. I think it was a big shock. A lot of people were putting emphasis on him leaving. But at the end of the day, he would have talked to us about anything,” DeRozan said.
Floyd was offered the job Wednesday to replace Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell, who took over when Lute Olson retired for health reasons before the start of the season.
“I listened, I heard what they had to say,” Floyd said at a campus news conference. “But there is something really special about building your own traditions and your own history.”
Floyd has led USC to the NCAA tournament three straight seasons, a first in program history. This year he coached USC to the Pac-10 tournament title.
Both Memphis and Arizona spoke to Floyd about vacant coaching positions, but he only visited the Tucson campus. Floyd said the Arizona offer came before he flew there Wednesday. He returned the same night to discuss the offer with his wife and a couple of USC players and recruits.
“I felt like at the age of 55, if I was ever going to look, that I would look now. They are going to attract a fabulous coach at both of those schools, without a doubt,” Floyd said.
Guard Daniel Hackett said he wasn’t upset about Floyd exploring his options.
“Coach has to look out for his best interest and if he wanted to listen to what Arizona had to say, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s nothing different than what other coaches do,” Hackett said.
Floyd’s previous college stints were at Iowa State, New Orleans and Idaho. He coached the NBA’s Chicago Bulls from 1999-2002 and the New Orleans Hornets in 2004.