Who is talking about those guys? All I have seen on the message boards is talk about Frank Martin and some talk of the NC State assistant, Bobby Lutz. The USC athletic department has a 12 million dollar reserve fund so money isn't really the issue.
When South Carolina gave the boot to Darrin Horn, hope took over for Gamecock fans. Messageboards were filled with mentions of Shaka Smart, Frank Martin and other “hot name” or proven head coaches.
Now reality is setting in. If Illinois can’t lure Smart from VCU for more than $2.5 million and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall won’t leave Kansas for less than $2 million and — reportedly — a seven- or eight-year deal… well, then Carolina’s going to have to go another route.
Two such “other route” candidates are now getting more discussion. Both have ties to South Carolina. Both are African-American. Neither is a “name” candidate. (Both are bald, too, as you can see from the photo at left… not that matters.)
First is current Ohio State assistant Dave Dickerson (at right in the photo). A former Maryland player — who was actually a freshman the year Len Bias died — Dickerson served as an assistant at the school under Gary Williams until taking the head coaching job at Tulane in 2005. Think about that timing. Just months after accepting his first head coaching job, his program — along with much of New Orleans — was hammered by Hurricane Katrina. The Green Wave actually relocated to Texas A&M’s campus for a while.
He was fired after the 2009-10 season, but there aren’t many people who could’ve succeeded under those circumstances. His tie to the USC job? The 44-year-old — who’s been on Thad Matta’s staff for two years — is from Olar, South Carolina and was raised in Beaufort. He’s also said that he does “want to be a had coach again and I feel this time I will be able to right some wrongs.”
More importantly, The State is reporting that Dickerson has expressed interest in Carolina’s opening. “I have not been contacted by USC about their coaching job, but I would be very interested.” (Beware, that paper’s info is behind a paywall.)
The other coach who’s starting to get some ink in connection to the USC gig is 43-year-old John Cooper of Tennessee State. Cooper served as an assistant under Eddie Fogler in Columbia from 1995 through 2001.
The Kansas City native served as an assistant at Oregon and Auburn between his stops at Carolina and, now, TSU. Hired in 2009, Cooper led the Tigers to 20 wins this season, one of which was the only loss suffered by Murray State during the regular season. He also happened to come into the Colonial Life Arena and hand Horn a loss. That win was the first for Tennessee State over an SEC foe in 24 games.
Perhaps AD Eric Hyman can still pull a surprise and land a head coach from a large school. More likely, he’ll go the assistant route — on that front, Duke aide Jeff Capel can’t be ruled out as Hyman went after him four years ago. But Dickerson and Cooper are names to watch as the Cocks’ process continues to play out.