Created on Thursday, 17 January 2013 05:38 Written by Dustin Gabler / Senior Staff Writer
On Monday, the University of Southern California announced it had relieved its basketball head coach of his duties, and, once again, Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon’s name was one of the first off the tongue — or keyboard — of many college basketball reporters.
But let’s be perfectly clear from the get-go, there has been no actual evidence that Dixon is even remotely interested in the USC job.
In fact, the only evidence that exists says he wouldn’t be interested. Now in his 14th season at Pitt — 10th as the head coach — Dixon has turned down a variety of jobs with plenty of intriguing qualities.
The first of these is money. In 2010, both Oregon and DePaul began making calls to big-time coaching targets all but ready to sign a blank check. Both schools became fascinated with Dixon.
Oregon, along with then Nike CEO Phil Knight, offered a huge sum of money, infinite uniform combinations and an oddly designed court to lure Dixon to the Beaver State.
DePaul, the Big East’s annual doormat, decided it wanted to buy a team and went searching for a great coach. It settled on Dixon and many linked him to the opening in Chicago.
Instead of taking either of those offers, Dixon signed an extension that put his salary at approximately $1.6 million per season. According to Pitt’s athletic director, Steve Pederson, Dixon didn’t even consult him about the extension and raise.
“Jamie has never come to us,” Pederson said. “He has never asked for anything. We went to him and told him that we’d like him to be the coach here for a long time and continue to work with him to build what’s become one of the elite programs in college basketball.”
Exactly a week later, DePaul hired ex-Clemson coach Oliver Purnell, who has had much less success than Dixon, for north of $2.1 million per year.
Dixon also turned down Arizona, a school with much more tradition than Pitt, in 2009.
Almost everyone but the man himself has said that Dixon desires to return to his home state of California. His parents still live there and his wife, originally from Hawaii, is a USC graduate. With all of that said, Dixon turned down USC in 2009.
“I know how good I’ve got it at Pitt,” Dixon said in 2010. “I’m not going anywhere. This is where I want to be, and this is where I always hoped to be. I’m happy to be at Pitt. I’m the luckiest guy in the world, and I recognize it every day.”
He’s also been linked to Arkansas, California, LSU, Maryland, Arizona State and Missouri and probably will be linked to whatever major conference jobs open up after this season. Despite turning down all of those schools that have plenty of endearing features, perhaps his biggest denial was that of Texas Christian University.
Dixon played college basketball at TCU for the Horned Frogs from 1984 to 1987. The notable alum helped TCU join the Big East — the deal later fell through for a variety of reasons, but at the time was an improvement for both parties. He obviously still cares about his alma mater.
However, like every other potential suitor, TCU joined the large scrapheap of schools that has failed to lure Dixon away from Pitt.
USC fans will argue that Dixon didn’t want the job in 2009 because the Trojans were under NCAA sanctions. But even this past Monday, Dixon said when his name comes up for other jobs that it is something he doesn’t even think about.
“I don’t really talk about that,” Dixon said. “Fourteen years here, and I’ve never talked about it. I guess it’s just part of it. It’s just part of the game, I guess. I’m kind of used to it. It’s just something we don’t really talk about or think about too much.”
There’s no true rebuttal to that yet. We haven’t seen Dixon turn down a program simply because it has received NCAA sanctions. After the USC job is filled, we will be able to cross another circumstance off our lists.
When an elite job comes along — and I mean truly elite — then Pitt fans can worry about their coach. His success has earned him the chance to be mentioned for the true blue bloods of college basketball.
So unless Duke, Kansas, Kentucky or Indiana comes calling, I feel comfortable saying Dixon will be the head coach at Pitt for his 11th season come next October.