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Mercifully Over … Almost



We don’t know what was worse about the 2011-12 season of University of South Carolina Gamecock basketball … the fact that the team sucked (again), the fact that attendance was atrocious or the fact that the USC athletics department attempted to fudge fan support.

Maybe it was a little of everything …

Anyway, USC head coach Darrin Horn’s fourth (and possibly last) season at the helm of the Gamecock program ended on Saturday with a 67-55 loss to Georgia. Well, the regular season ended … the Gamecocks (10-20, 2-14 SEC) will be the low seed in the Southeastern Conference tournament, which begins on Thursday in New Orleans.

Horn has been on the hot seat for some time now.

He arrived in Columbia four years ago having led Western Kentucky to 111 wins in five seasons – including an appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Already high expectations hit the stratosphere in 2009 when USC throttled Kentucky 77-59 at home to improve to 20-6 on the season.

The program has gone downhill ever since then, though.

USC choked down the stretch in 2009, losing four of its final five games and missing out on an NCAA bid. The Gamecocks haven’t come close to the postseason since then. In fact, they haven’t posted a winning record, going 15-16 in Horn’s second season, 14-16 last year and 10-20 this season.

That’s backward motion … which is pretty hard to accomplish when you’re talking about a program that hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game in thirty-seven years.

In December 2009, Horn agreed to a new two-year contract extension that raised his base salary to $1.1 million per year through 2015. At the time he inked his new deal with athletics director Eric Hyman, Horn had a solid 27-12 record as USC’s head coach. Since then, however, he’s gone 33-50 – including this year’s season to forget.

Will Horn get the boot? Under normal circumstances it’s hard to see him sticking around, but Hyman has always been quite fond of the young coach.

We should know more about Horn’s status next month – when the cost of buying out the remainder of his contract falls from $2 million to $1.25 million.


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