Veteran college basketball coach Trent Johnson, who has spent the past two seasons as Mark Fox’s deputy analyst & director of player development at Cal, is making an intriguing move.
Johnson has accepted a position as interim head coach at Cal State Northridge, which in April placed its entire basketball coaching staff on paid administrative leave after the NCAA informed the school of possible rules violations.
What makes Johnson’s decision curious is the fact that Matadors coach Matt Gottfried and his staff remain on paid leave while Northridge completes its own internal investigation of the matter.
In other words, Gottfried and his assistants could theoretically be reinstated if the university decides they deserve to stay.
And if that occurs, what happens to Johnson, who will turn 65 in September?
Perhaps he has inside information on what is likely to occur. Perhaps he just wants to get his foot in the door as a head coach again.
Here's more on the Northridge situation from the Los Angeles Times.
Cal has not announced the change, but Johnson no longer appears on their roster page.
Johnson compiled a record of 276-265 over 17 seasons as head coach Nevada, Stanford, LSU and TCU. He was Fox's boss at Nevada before Fox succeeded him in 2004.
Johnson guided Stanford to three NCAA tournament bids in his four seasons there through 2007-08, then left for LSU. He led LSU to the NCAAs in his first season, but never got there again in three more years Baton Rouge or four seasons at TCU.
At Cal, Johnson’s role was to support player development and mentorship off the court. He also contributed to game planning, scouting and player analysis.
The Bears are just 23-38 the past two seasons and are again projected to finish at or very close to the bottom of the Pac-12 standings.
Northridge will bring its own challenges. The Matadors were 9-13 last season, including 5-9 in the Big West Conference.
Without a coaching staff available to recruit over the past three months, the Matadors have added no new players. In the meantime, All-Big West junior guard T.J. Starks (21.7 points per game) declared for the NBA draft and five other players transferred.
Cover photo of Trent Johnson by Al Sermeno, KLC fotos
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo