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Sounding the Horn

Back when Dave Odom stepped aside, C&F wrote that the upcoming coaching search would be a test for Eric Hyman.

It will be the first hire Hyman will make for one of the "big three" programs (football, basketball, baseball).

It's time for Hyman to prove he can do better at his job than Odom did at his.

Well, now the coach has been hired, and his name is Darrin Horn.

Incoming South Carolina basketball coach Bob Saget Darrin Horn.

So, what to think of Horn?

Again, the Western Kentucky chief appears to fit Hyman's description: A young, up-and-coming mid-major coach. And Horn's resume is, while not jaw-dropping, not bad.

So he would appear to be a solid if not spectacular hire for South Carolina, perhaps the kind of hire that will work for a school that's had little success with "veteran" coaches.

But a word of caution: Last month, many WKU fans would have paid for Horn's ticket to Columbia.

Only four weeks ago, there was griping among elements of the Western fan base because Horn was in his fifth year and had yet to lead the Hilltoppers to The Dance. Once WKU not only made the tourney, but won two games, the same fan base was suddenly invoking Horn's status as a WKU alumnus as the reason the coach should turn his back on the money and prestige of an SEC job to be true to his school.

Meanwhile, the last WKU coach to enter the SEC has had -- um -- minimal sustained success.

This is not a foreign situation to Selig and WKU. Following the Hilltoppers' run of three straight NCAA Tournaments from 2001-03, former WKU coach Dennis Felton signed a $400,000 deal but then left for Georgia.

And no, Georgia fans, winning more SEC games in two days than you won the previous two months to claim the "conference title" does not equal sustained success.

Meanwhile, Emerson reminds us of some unsettling echoes from recent Gamecocks history.

But Horn also has fans in Kentucky. And South Carolina apparently wasn't the only one in pursuit.

A Big East Conference official asked Horn's friend, Marquette coach Tom Crean, if Horn would be interested in Providence College's opening.

Then there is the message-board chatter surrounding the opening at Indiana University, where Horn's name has been inserted into the dialogue.

This is what Western's marvelous Sweet 16 run has done for Horn: He's exited the hot seat he did not deserve to become a hot commodity. ...

Four consecutive seasons with at least 22 victories. A brisk, high-energy, entertaining playing style. Players who graduate and remain off the police blotter. Uncovering and developing players waved off by schools from the power conferences because they were too slow or too small or too something.

For now, C&F says Hyman gets an incomplete. Horn isn't a home run hire, and he isn't even Jeff Capel. He might just be the best South Carolina could get.

Which doesn't necessarily make him bad.

It just doesn't necessarily make him good, either.