Proving yet again that nobody isn't a coaching candidate until death, Tim Floyd and Steve Lavin are back on the job.
Floyd replaces Tony Barbee at UTEP after Barbee parlayed his success into the Auburn job. Lavin replaces Norm Roberts at St. John's after Roberts parlayed his high graduation rate and general decency into a pink slip.
While we suspect that Comrade Parrish will cover this in greater detail, there's nothing wrong with standing back and marveling at the ways in which the seemingly doomed never really are.
Floyd was kicked out of USC for allegedly paying one of O.J. Mayo's many "handlers," which of course created a flurry of "He'll never coach again" clucking. He was out of work for 10 months.
Lavin was fired at UCLA mostly for running out of lives after eight years, and after, the usual round of snickering was guaranteed a coachless future by many of the same analysts. They came closer this time because Lavin was off the sidelines and wearing a headset for seven years.
But there's always something to be said for hanging around and being visible, and both Floyd and Lavin did just that. Indeed, Floyd, whose reputation took a beating after the Mayo allegations came out and was thrown into the chipper-shredder by a USC athletic department in serious need of cuddling up to the NCAA, was the better bet to come back because allegations of buying players alone are never a disqualifier. Even actually buying them isn't a disqualifier. In fact, nothing is, except abject failure.
Lavin, though, was the surprise. Seven years is a long time to sit and watch, and even though he was a broadcaster for almost the entire time since his departure at UCLA, he was never truly close to getting back into his chosen profession. He was as out as out could be, because he'd committed the only other sin a coach can commit other than persistent losing.
He'd fallen out of fashion.
In fact, he's fallen back in with a vengeance at St. John's, a place with a legacy that is now as old as it was once venerable, and in a town where winning a lot is the most minimal of standards.
Lavin's history at UCLA was uneven. He was never fully respected as a tactician, but five Sweet 16s in his eight years looks better now than it did at the time. He fell into an oppressive history in a town that is only slightly better at forgiveness than New York, so he knows what he's in for, but the Big East is deeper and more treacherous than the Pac-10 was when he was there.
That must be why he's getting $9 million for six years.
Floyd, on the other hand, had succeeded at USC, as much as basketball succeeds at USC, and UTEP as a school has never been particularly troubled by resumes that aren't pristine (they did hire Mike Price, who was very nearly the Alabama coach at one time before leaving his wallet lying around).
He won't have center Derrick Caracter to build around as he is going to enter the NBA Draft, but Barbee left plenty of experience for him, so if he can stay above suspicion (hard to do in this business), he can rebuild his rep in a place where people won't be looking over shoulder every day. Which, when you think about it, is also a good place if you don't mind whether people hold you below suspicion.
But if when you hang around enough, suspicion counts the same as non-suspicion. If you can win, recruit, and bring money in, your past isn't an issue. And it probably shouldn't be. After all, how long should a fella pay for past misdeeds, like being accused of paying go-betweens, or analyzing Big Ten games for money?
And the trend continues. Fran Fraschilla is allegedly interviewing for the Iona job that Kevin Willard left to go to Seton Hall, and he's been out for eight years. Sounds like Bill Raftery is getting a phone call from someone soon, and it isn't a guy telling him he is paying too much for his cell phone service.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.