Another Robinson For The Trojans??

By John Canzano
Updated: June 11, 2009

OREGON — There will be NCAA sanctions at USC. The place will take a public relations hit. But as head basketball coaching opportunities go, Craig Robinson isn’t going to have a better one than USC in the short term.

Which is why he should take the job if it’s offered.

Understand. I’d miss Robinson. He’s been terrific at Oregon State. The Beavers are competitive, and interesting, and they’ve managed to grab a bit of traction one year after being irrelevant. But I’m convinced that there’s more for Robinson to lose than gain in the next year in Corvallis.

USC would be smart to contact Robinson, offer him its resources and attach itself to the brother-in-law of you-know-who in what would be a brilliant recovery move.

Remember, Tim Floyd, who resigned Tuesday, was shocked when O.J. Mayo committed to USC.

We were told Floyd didn’t recruit Mayo. It’s only being revealed now that Floyd gave Mayo “handler” Rodney Guillory $1,000 to steer the talent to USC. And it’s being learned that Guillory may have been on the payroll of sports agent Bill Duffy.

What we have here is a mess, yes?

The expectations will be low for whoever follows Floyd at USC. They’ll celebrate a coach who pushes his players to be accountable and improve themselves on and off the court. And there isn’t a better available option than Robinson.

He’s not available, you’re thinking.

I’ve watched OSU athletic director Bob DeCarolis go public with his concerns over the athletic department’s finances. He’s asked for help from the public. He’s begged for support from longtime Beavers fans. And I thought his move to make his worries known to all was a wise one.

Until Wednesday.

Because right now Robinson has to be wondering whether the athletic department can keep the promises it made about facility improvements. He has to be wondering what will be left of sports on campus at OSU if that support never comes.

If Robinson leaves OSU for USC the Beavers get a flat $1 million on his buyout. Which is only to say that DeCarolis’ financial problems would be traded for the issue of having to find a replacement for Robinson on short notice.

It’s not lost here either that when Robinson went looking for talent in his first recruiting class he went to a place full of talent — Southern California.

Oregon State is a survivor. The football program was floored when Dennis Erickson left. It answered with Mike Riley, part two. The basketball program was bled out by Jay John, and answered with Robinson.

OSU always finds a way. And watching it come up big under tough circumstances has been inspiring in a climate of college athletics that favors the quick fixers. I’m not worried about the Beavers’ ability to replace the coach who just turned in a successful basketball season.

DeCarolis was out of options, seemingly, when he plucked Robinson out of thin air. And I’m not convinced that there’s much more Robinson can do in Corvallis to raise his stock.

Think about the feel-good story that Robinson has been. Add in the fact that he is now going to have to do it with better players and higher expectations. Consider, too, that DeCarolis is fretting publicly about the finances at OSU.

This isn’t to say that Robinson can’t do more, but I’m wondering if the risk he cannot isn’t enough to make cleaning up the mess at USC a better gig.

Robinson is the obvious candidate at USC. And he should absolutely be interested. The question isn’t so much whether the Trojans are willing to pay his buyout, but whether Robinson believes he can reasonably do more at Oregon State next season.

Robinsons level of interest in the job at USC will be correlated to his confidence in Oregon State, won’t it?

If he stays, the school and boosters should reward that confidence and loyalty with their support.