Pitino, Donovan Endorse Pelphrey For South Florida Job | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Saturday / February 24.
  • Pitino, Donovan Endorse Pelphrey For South Florida Job

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    John PelphreyBy JOSH NEWMAN
    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    It’s very early in the process, but the plot is already thickening as the University of South Florida searches for a new head coach.

    After CBSSports.com reported on Saturday that Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello had emerged as a serious candidate for the position, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and Florida head coach Billy Donovan both endorsed Gators assistant coach John Pelphrey for the job.

    Pelphrey, who played for Pitino at Kentucky from 1989-92, holds a 149-125 coaching record in nine seasons between South Alabama and Arkansas from 2002-11. He was fired as Razorbacks head coach in 2011 after going 18-13, at which time he was hired by Donovan.

    “I think John would be a great fit at USF,’’ Donovan said according to the Tampa Tribune. “Sometimes, what happens is you take difficult jobs. I think John took two very hard jobs. Had he been given one more year (at Arkansas), he had a lot of players coming back and a great recruiting class, I think he really would’ve had it going there. It would be a tremendous loss for us, but I want what’s best for him and his family.”

    One could argue that South Florida is also a difficult job, but that has not stopped Pitino from hyping it up.

    According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Masiello asked Pitino, “What do you think (about the USF job)?”

    Pitino responded: “I said, ‘For you, it’s a grand slam.'”

    “I think it’s a better job now, believe it or not, then when they were in the Big East,” Pitino said of the fact that USF is now in the American Athletic Conference. “Even with a new arena or whatever, they still couldn’t compete in recruiting with the Syracuses and Louisvilles of the world. Now, they’re on par with everyone (in the AAC). Just get a guy in there now who can recruit, play a style to excite fans, drum up the support and I think you’ve got something really special.”

    South Florida went 12-19 and 3-15 in their first season in the AAC, which led to Heath’s firing on March 14 after a first-round loss in the AAC Tournament.

    “My perception of USF is they’ve changed leagues so much and the program has been in a constant state of flux,” Donovan said. “They’ve clearly made a commitment to their facilities. Tampa is a great city. I think they’re in the right league (AAC) now. It’s manageable. The Big East was too hard of a jump and now the program is in a good place. I’d be excited for John to get a shot at running USF’s program. He’d be terrific.”

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