Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
I hate to play along with the notion for fear of where this will go. Surely, some reader is destined to flood my inbox with emails or blow up the site's Twitter feed about the ridiculous notion, but what the heck - I'm bored.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear - If I had to hazard a guess, I don't think Dixon's leaving for USC. I also don't think he'd immediately replace Howland at UCLA. He and Howland refuse to even schedule each other, so how much sense would it make if Dixon were to take his mentor's seat while it was still warm and where the job would be to upstage him?
Okay, now that that's out of the way, it's fun time boys and girls - cue the circus music.
So, we all know of the Jamie Dixon to USC rumors. It's no surprise since this appears to be an annual tradition. We all know the drill - program comes calling, Dixon appears to think it over, Pitt opens their wallet a bit, and said program is denied. The Dixon rumors aren't new. Similarly, there's all sorts of talk and gun-jumping about Ben Howland potentially being canned from UCLA. And as we've gone over before, even a certain famous alum is openly criticizing him (on the air during games, no less).
But what is new, is speculation (not even to the point of rumor, so don't get carried away) being floated out there. If Dixon bolts for USC, could Ben Howland come back to Pitt? SB Nation's UCLA blog has a fairly convincing take on the situation and makes you want to believe it (if you're a Howland fan, that is). And as they point out, CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman got in on the act a bit, even mentioning the scenario. And for good measure, FWIW, NBC Sports chimes in with the same idea.
Look, I can't think that far ahead - I don't know what's going to happen in Pitt's game against Wichita State on Thursday let alone know who will be coaching next month. I can't say I'm on board that this is happening right now as outlined in the Bruins Nation story. But I'll say this - is it possible Dixon ever leaves Pitt for another job? Yes. If Howland is dismissed from UCLA and the Pitt job would be open, is it out of the realm of possibility he'd come back? No. For the record, though, those are two monumental things that would need to happen.
So now that we've determined the scenario unfolding that way isn't even in the credible rumor department yet, what would I think about it if it happened? There's no denying the nearly overnight success Howland made Pitt, taking a bad program and turning it into an elite one in only a few years. But if you've been reading this blog for a while, you're likely aware that I've never been a big fan of the way Howland left. In other words, I'd be against this
I'd rather have the continuity Dixon has brought than another go-round with Howland, who may decide to bolt yet again after a few more good seasons. That may not seem likely since Howland previously said he never imagined leaving Pitt for anywhere by UCLA, but, yeah whatever. And if that's not enough to convince you Howland wouldn't be the right guy, there was the SI bombshell this season about the out of control UCLA program. Thanks, but no thanks.
But beyond my opinions are those of other Pitt fans. And for those that already have a big problem with Steve Pederson, bringing back Howland may only give them more ammunition. Howland's a fine coach, but for fans who have all but tabbed Sean Miller as the next best thing to Dixon, it would be another sign of incompetence.
Now, that was fun. Unfortunately it's back to the real world where Dixon will be staying at Pitt.