Here’s a good story on former USC coach Tim Floyd and former USC assistant Gib Arnold in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Interesting because Arnold was not exactly Floyd’s “lead recruiter” at USC and said, “I coached for him more than any other coach.”
If you ever witnessed a USC practice, Floyd never let his assistants do much coaching other than trusted right-hand man, Phil Johnson.
Coaching relationship between Floyd and Arnold goes back
By Brian McInnis
Gib Arnold is still trying to wring the last drops of knowledge out of
his mentor. At various points during this weekend’s Hawaiian Airlines
Diamond Head Classic, the Hawaii basketball coach could be seen
commiserating with his Texas-El Paso counterpart, Tim Floyd, in the
Stan Sheriff Center.
In the arena tunnels, in the bleachers watching another game, perhaps
even during a surf session on Saturday. The setting doesn’t matter;
it’s like old times at USC, where Arnold was lead recruiter for Floyd
during a four-year run that included three straight NCAA Tournament
“He’s taught me everything I know about man-to-man defense, but
unfortunately he hasn’t taught me everything he knows about it,”
Arnold playfully lamented.
Floyd scoffs at this.
“He saw it all, trust me,” Floyd said with a laugh. “He saw it all.
Back then was as good as it’s ever been while we were out there.”
The two have since moved on — Arnold got his first Division I head
coaching gig at UH last season and Floyd recovered from a
controversial exit at USC to land smoothly in El Paso — but they’ve
kept in touch and swapped plenty of war stories.
Floyd called to congratulate Arnold after UH’s biggest win in recent
years, an 84-82 overtime upset of No. 14 Xavier on Friday night. They
were to meet up again on Saturday to talk strategy about their
Christmas opponents: UTEP defeated UH’s 11:30 a.m. foe, Clemson, 61-48
on Thursday. And UH took a heartbreaking first-round loss, 65-62, from
the Miners’ third-place opponent at 2:30 p.m., Auburn.
Umm, is that level of information sharing … normal?
“Yeah, sure, it’s family,” Arnold said. “We’re in the same coaching lineage.”
Floyd has coached around the country, and at one time was tabbed as
Phil Jackson’s successor with the Chicago Bulls. That didn’t work out,
but he’s enjoyed plenty of success in the college ranks at everywhere
from New Orleans to Iowa State to USC. Floyd is renowned for his
defense; his teams have held opponents below 50 points 52 times in his
Arnold, ever the inquisitive understudy, has taken elements of Floyd’s
defensive scheme and integrated it with elements picked up at other
stops and through innovation.
That the two are on even footing as head coaches is something new —
and advantageous. Both were relieved not to play the other in the DHC;
such a contest might have jeopardized their budding cross-conference
alliance. Once Western Athletic Conference play rolls around, UH will
practice at former WAC rival UTEP’s facilities for the nearby game at
New Mexico State on Feb. 23.
Perhaps so the master can study the former apprentice up close and personal?
“He’s certainly added to what we’ve done and we’ve studied films
trying to steal a little bit from what he’s doing,” said Floyd, who
sees plenty of similarities between their teams, such as in the manner
two men drop back on defense, and how they game-plan to stop
opponents’ top scorers.
“I told him I was proud of how hard his teams play. Offensively,
they’re a little bit like us, and he knows it because he’s in early
rebuild,” Floyd said. “He needs one more perimeter scorer and one more
big scorer and he’ll be off and running, because they do a lot of
Interestingly enough, Floyd’s Miners take on the coach he replaced at
UTEP, Tony Barbee, who accepted the job at Auburn before last season.
UTEP proved the perfect landing spot for Floyd.
Floyd resigned from USC in June 2009, soon after allegations emerged
that he passed along a $1,000 cash payment to a handler to sway star
guard O.J. Mayo to play at USC.
In the summer of 2010, the NCAA cleared Floyd of wrongdoing, although
the USC athletic department had already admitted culpability in the
matter and imposed its own sanctions, including a one-season ban on
postseason play. All 21 wins were vacated from the 2007-08 season —
the lone year Mayo was a Trojan.
Floyd has steadfastly maintained that he left USC not out of guilt,
but because he would not remain where he wasn’t wanted.
He felt wanted in El Paso, where he had lived until age 8 and had his
first assistant coaching gig under the legendary Don Haskins. In his
first season as UTEP head coach, he guided the Miners to a 25-10
record and an NIT appearance.
“It’s home,” Floyd said of the remote border city in western Texas.
That’s what Arnold, a Punahou graduate, said of Hawaii when he
accepted the UH job in March 2010. He spent a layover year under Kevin
O’Neill at USC after Floyd’s resignation — then it was time to lead.
“I coached for him more than any other coach,” Arnold said of Floyd.
“I consider him my mentor and a guy I look up to. I had a phenomenal
experience coaching with him.”