Last week, Rick Majerus looked euphoric, standing at the USC podium after accepting the position as men's basketball coach his "dream job. " But yesterday a somber and occasionally...
LOS ANGELES Last week, Rick Majerus looked euphoric, standing at the USC podium after accepting the position as men’s basketball coach his “dream job.”
But yesterday a somber and occasionally teary-eyed Majerus stood at the same podium to announce his resignation as coach, saying his health and fitness were not yet at a stage where he felt he could perform his new duties.
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“I made a mistake,” Majerus said. “I want to apologize to USC for any inconvenience or embarrassment I may have caused them.
“I did not have any specific health issue here. There is no episode of anything. My health is good for being anything but an astronaut or a coach.”
Majerus, 56, has been overweight for years. He left Utah in January after 15 seasons and 323 victories in part to get control of his health. He said he has undergone seven heart bypass operations.
When he was introduced as USC’s coach Wednesday, Majerus said his health was good enough to allow him to leave his current position as a television analyst at ESPN and return to the game.
But he said self-doubt began to creep in well before the ink was dry on his five-year, $5 million deal.
“I wanted this job so bad I was in denial where my health actually is,” Majerus said yesterday. “Health in my case correlates to fitness. This was a special situation, and I deluded myself because of the situation.
“I realized (USC) wasn’t getting the guy they hired. I came to that conclusion myself. I’m not fit for this job by my standards. … I could come here and mail it in get 15 wins one year, maybe 20 wins the next. But as much as this was a dream, I couldn’t do that to the kids or (athletic director) Mike Garrett. I can’t be something I’m not.”
Garrett, who met with Majerus for 30 minutes in the athletic director’s office before yesterday’s news conference, said he did not believe USC had “rushed” into signing Majerus after firing Henry Bibby four games into the season.
“We get after it when we think we have someone that can fit us,” Garrett said. “If it’s an SC guy, we’ll go after it in a blink of an eye.”
Garrett said Daryl Gross, USC senior associate athletic director, would continue the search for other candidates even though Gross is leaving in late January to become the athletic director at Syracuse.
“We have a plan, and he still has a short list,” Garrett said. “He knows who to go after.”
Tim Floyd, former Iowa State and NBA Chicago Bulls coach, said USC had contacted him. Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal, a USC alumnus and former Sonics coach, is considered a candidate, as is Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon.
Texas Tech coach Bob Knight and ex-Sonics coach George Karl are believed to have expressed interest in the job.
Jim Saia is the interim coach at USC.
“Everything has been changing real quick,” said sophomore guard Lodrick Stewart, a former standout at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. “It’s still kind of messed up how everything is going for us this year. It’s a weird situation all the players were put in, but we still have to go out and win games.”