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USC, UTEP coaching staffs get into heated discussion at Battle 4 Atlantis reception

Nov 27, 2013, 9:32 PM EDT

UTEP Southern Miss Basketball

“Tim Floyd shows up every day at work and realizes he lives in El Paso, Texas. And he’s pissed off that he didn’t get the USC job two months ago. I told him, ‘Tim, if I could have all this power to somehow convince a family to do this, why the heck didn’t the kid come last spring, when I first got the job?’”

Those were the words of first-year USC head coach Andy Enfield to a group of USC boosters, as dictated in a profile of the coach written by Stephen Rodrick in the December issue of Men’s Journal, and it was the latest salvo in a spat between the USC and UTEP programs that has spanned the last several months.

Both teams are playing in this weekend’s Battle 4 Atlantis event in The Bahamas, and according to Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated (he’s in attendance) the two coaching staffs had a heated exchange at the pre-tournament reception.

The conversation between the head coaches lasted for several minutes, with Floyd doing most of the talking. As it intensified, Enfield’s wife, Amanda, came to stand next to her husband. Floyd did not direct any of his remarks toward her or Miller.

After about five minutes, three of Enfield’s assistant coaches, Kevin Norris, Tony Bland and Jason Hart, stood behind Floyd. Soon Floyd could be heard saying to Hart, “Do you want to kick my ass?”

At that point, Floyd’s assistant coach, Bob Cantu, who served as USC’s interim head coach after the school fired Kevin O’Neill during the 2013 regular season and was sitting at a table a few feet away, stood up and joined the conversation. While Enfield, his wife and Floyd walked away, Cantu got into an argument with Bland and Hart. Those men were separated, but a few seconds later Bland rushed at Cantu. He was held back by UTEP strength coach Chisan Jones.

Both Floyd and Cantu have connections to the USC program, with Floyd being the head coach during the entire O.J. Mayo fiasco and Cantu being a long-time assistant before completing last season as the interim head coach. And there’s also the issue of former UTEP signee Isaac Hamilton, who’s sitting out the current season at UCLA.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamilton requesting to be released from his National Letter of Intent, Floyd accused USC and Enfield of tampering with the McDonald’s All-American. That all likely played a role in tonight’s disagreement, and with the two programs on opposite sides of the Battle 4 Atlantis event there’s no guarantee that they’ll meet.

But if the two teams match results over the first two days, so to speak, they would play on Saturday. And that would definitely be something to watch, regardless of what place the Trojans and Miners are playing for.

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