After turning Florida Gulf Coast into America’s team with a miracle Sweet 16 run, coach Andy Enfield is heading to USC.
The school will pay him $1.5 million per year, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reports, 10 times what he was making at FGCU.
Considering where Enfield was two weeks ago, it’s a shock hire.
It’s not like Enfield was a hot coaching prospect coming into the tournament. While he has NBA and big-time college experience as an assistant at Florida State, FGCU was his first head coaching gig.
He’d only been there for two years, and while he was successful this year, he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.
FGCU finished sixth in the Atlantic Sun last year with a 15-17 record. Before their Sweet 16 run this year, they finished second in the conference behind Mercer and had a 26-11 record.
That first weekend of the tournament in Philadelphia changed everything for Enfield. FGCU beat Georgetown on Friday night, and then San Diego State on Sunday night.
His team didn’t just pull off two miracle upsets, it smacked around big-time programs and played with an infectious enthusiasm. FGCU danced and dunked its way into the Sweet 16, and for one weekend became the centre of the college basketball world.
If Georgetown was able to complete its comeback against FGCU in the second, Enfield would still be a young, relatively anonymous coach at a young, anonymous school.
But that didn’t happen.
In 80 minutes of basketball over two nights, Enfield rose from a second-year small-time coach to a fresh basketball mind with a clear up-tempo philosophy, at least in the eyes of USC.
This isn’t to say Enfield doesn’t deserve his new gig and his new salary. By all accounts he has the pedigree and smarts to be a great coach at any level of basketball.
But it just goes to show how the NCAA Tournament can create figures of national basketball importance in a small period of time.
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