Mar 20, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon answers a question during the press conference the day before the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Tournament 2013: Let the Jamie Dixon speculation begin

Coming off yet another early exit in the NCAA Tournament, it’s the time of year where everyone can speculate on the future of Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon.

Dixon has been rumored for the past couple of years for job openings around the country, but this year the speculation could be closer to turning into reality. As Pitt prepares to head to the ACC next season, the only question remaining is will Dixon be accompanying them?

Mar 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon reacts on the sidelines against the Syracuse Orange during the first half of a quarterfinal game during the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been highly rumored that Dixon and USC are a perfect fit, but while it seemed illogical that Dixon would bolt Pitt in the past, after their latest tournament failures, now could be the ideal time.

Since 2003, Dixon has become one of the best coaches in Big East Conference history, but Thursday’s loss to Wichita State dropped Dixon to only 10-9 in NCAA Tournament play.

The first question Dixon faced in Thursday’s postgame press conference dealt with his future and to his credit he deflected it, especially after watching senior Tray Woodall break down during the same presser.

Dixon paused for about seven seconds, and then said, “I mean … I just had my point guard break down here and it’s the farthest thing from my mind.”

Dixon later added: “I’m looking forward to watching these guys and coaching these guys and them being better next year. I can’t wait because I know we have a great group and I’m excited about it.”

What Dixon was referring to was a tearful Woodall saying:

“It’s a bitter taste in my mouth to end my career with one of the worst games I’ve ever played in my history. I’m sorry I let my team down. One of the worst games I’ve ever played.”

That was certainly no time for Dixon to discuss his future.

For Dixon, it may be time for a change as he could have the feeling that he may never break through what appears to be a tournament ceiling at Pitt.

If he were to go to USC, it would be literally starting over.

He would be trading in a packed Petersen Events Center and a rabid fan base for an empty Galen Center. It could take some time for Dixon to turn the Trojans into a powerhouse. But returning to California could be ideal for Dixon as he was born in Burbank.

There have also been whispers that Pitt would attempt to bring Ben Howland back from UCLA if Dixon were to bolt.

However while I feel change is good for everyone sometimes, my gut tells me that Dixon isn’t going anywhere. But this time there is something to the rumors and Dixon will consider leaving more than any time in the past.

It’s going to be a long summer for Dixon and the Pitt basketball program.

Let the speculation begin.

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Tags: Jamie Dixon Pittsburgh Panthers Basketball USC Trojans

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