Horn Debate Starting to Get One-Sided

I think (Horn) is doing a fine job. South Carolina’s hard. Hard deal to get going. That’s why you’ve got to stick with a guy, and you’ve got to give him seven, eight years, and let him get it going.

– John Calipari, University of Kentucky Head Coach

We should really thank Coach Cal for his opinion, even though he appears to be trying to wave down a train that left the station about a month ago. And it’s pretty easy for a guy like him to chime in: secure in his job; secure for life financially; leading one of the premiere programs in the country; able to look at the top 20 high school players in America and say, “OK, I’ll take him, him, him, annnnd the 6’10” guy over there who can step on campus and average 15 and 10 every night.”

In last night’s post game, after Kentucky’s 86-52 win over South Carolina (the score makes the game look closer than it really was, folks), Calipari continued to lobby for Horn by saying something to the effect, “If South Carolina or its fans want to restart every three or four years that’s their business but that’s not how I would run things.”

Thanks Coach, but it’s obvious you’re trying to protect one of your own. Trying to single-handedly stabilize the college coaching profession. Your effort is noble and appreciated, but the defense of Darrin Horn is growing weaker by the game.

First of all, nobody associated with the Gamecock program WANTS to restart every three or four years.  Prior to Horn, Eddie Fogler had eight years and Dave Odom had seven years at the helm.  Both guys had moderate success, but followed that success with average to poor seasons that led to their respective retirements. Enter the young guy, the hot coaching prospect fresh off a Sweet 16 with Western Kentucky to bring long-term stability to our program.

But anyone with eyes can see that things have gone in the tank for our program at lightning speed under the leadership of Darrin Horn, and when you look ahead to 2012-2013 and beyond I’m not sure it makes us feel better that this is the proverbial “young” team.  Allow me to rehash a few tidbits from the end of last year until now:

  • Ramon Galloway, one of our top returning players, mysteriously transfers out of the program. I don’t know if anyone knows the real story of why he left, but he would be a nice piece to have on this team. Currently averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists for LaSalle.
  • Murphy Holloway, in one of the more bizarre transfer stories of all time, transfers to USC from Ole Miss, sits on our bench and practices with us for an entire season, then decides to transfer back to Ole Miss.  Currently averaging 10 points and 9 rebounds for Ole Miss.
  • November brings losses to Elon on the road and Tennessee State at home
  • In December our top two commitments for 2012-2013, Ian Baker and Carlos Morris, jump ship due to perceived instability with the program
  • Currently ranked 284th in the country in points per game
  • Currently ranked 289th in the country in rebounds per game
  • Currently ranked 328th in the country in assists per game
  • Currently ranked 266th in the country in shooting percentage

Besides those facts, just watching our team gives you the sinking feeling that we’re either a) sorely lacking in talent or b) not coached very well.  I’m certainly not here to bash the players.  I appreciate those guys, that they chose to attend USC, and that they pour their heart out every chance they get to play.  But you can’t escape from the fact that players like Brian Richardson and Lakeem Jackson were brought in to be cornerstones of the program, and now they’re fighting to just get a few minutes every game.

Whose fault is that?  I’m going to give the players the benefit of the doubt that they’re working hard and trying to get better every day.  And if that’s the case, then the coaching staff is not developing these guys, or they’re not being put into a system that gives them a chance to complete, much less win.

Look, a lot of people have been talking about “realistic expectations” in defense of Horn when it comes to our program.  I get that.  There is not a single program in a major conference with resources like ours that has underachieved more in the last 40 years.  (Name one, please, to make me feel better.)

But that doesn’t mean we should accept it.  And it doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to all the arguments that are starting to build up against Darrin Horn. He wasn’t brought in to be a miracle worker, but he also wasn’t brought in to a bare cupboard either, as evidenced by our 21-10 record his first year.

I’m not screaming for the dismissal of Darrin Horn. Despite taking the time to jot these few words down, I quite frankly don’t care a whole lot at this point.

And that may be the biggest indictment of all.

3 thoughts on “Horn Debate Starting to Get One-Sided

  1. Unfortunately, your last two paragraphs sum up my own feelings all too succinctly. I really don’t care at all what happens with the men’s basketball team right now. Sad, but true. I never thought I’d be a fair-weather fan, but I prefer to use my hard-earned game-watching capital on football, baseball and occasionally women’s basketball. The men’s team does not inspire any faith in progress. I don’t see a light at the end of this tunnel.

  2. I believe that MOST USC fans expected Horn to be a “miracle worker”. I think most USC fans think that USC is pretty much just like UK, Duke, or UNC, and the only reason we don’t have the same kind of success as those programs is simply because we have not had the “right coach”. Get the “right coach” most believe, and USC will quickly begin winning just like those programs. In other words, most USC fans do not have a realistic view of USC basketball, or appreciate how difficult the job is. Will the fans ever change? I doubt it. They will always have the same unrealistic view, regardless of who the coach is. I have tried to convince many of them that it takes time to build a basketball program at USC, if you do it the right way, but I have found little success. They think that the “right coach” can come to USC and in 2-3 years have a good team that has a great chance to make the NCAA. Some of them were calling for Horn to be fired toward the end of his second year! Some were even calling for him to be fired as soon as he was hired!!!

    So, I have decided to join that crowd. If USC fires Horn and brings in a new coach, I am going to give him 2 years. If USC is not in The Big Dance by the end of year two, I am going to begin to criticize the coach, and demand that he be replaced. I will not care if some players transfer. I will not care if any players get injured. I will not care about anything except whether the team makes the NCAA at the end of his second year. I think that the new coach should be treated like Horn has been treated. Fair is fair.

    1. Welcome to the world of big-time college sports. If a coach hasn’t shown reasonable progress in 2-3 years, people start grumbling, and that’s not just at South Carolina. And when your team is in last place in the conference and being beat by 40 at home in a coach’s fouth year, then Katy bar the door. (I know it was an excellent Kentucky team, but we shouldn’t lose to ANY college team by that kind of margin.)

      Horn is fortunate his first team played well, or he would’ve been on the hot seat sooner. Not saying it’s necessarily right, but that’s the way it is.

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