Smith Gilbert Cites Intensity and Geography As Reasons For Move…

Ryan Kartje (LA Times)  —  After winning a NCAA women’s title, then losing its coach just one day later, USC has moved swiftly in replacing one of the nation’s top track and field coaches with a Trojan track legend.

Quincy Watts, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and current Trojans top assistant, has been named USC’s director of track and field and cross country, the university announced on Thursday.

Watts replaces Caryl Smith Gilbert, the NCAA women’s track and field coach of the year, who led USC’s women’s team to the second NCAA title of her tenure last weekend and the men to a fifth-place finish before announcing she was taking the same job at Georgia.

Watts, 50, was a natural successor. A former Woodland Hills Taft High and USC track star, Watts was the 1992 NCAA 400-meter champion with the Trojans. This season, as USC track and field had one of its finest seasons in program history, Watts was named national outdoor women’s assistant coach of the year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Assn.

“Naming Quincy Watts, a Trojan Hall of Famer and Olympic legend, as our new director of track and field and cross country is the best and right decision for us,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. “His impact on both our men’s and women’s program over the past eight years has been significant.”

Watts certainly learned from one of the best. Smith Gilbert was widely considered one of the top track and field coaches in the nation, winning two national championships over eight seasons and establishing USC as a national track and field power and haven for Olympic hopefuls.

In a statement announcing her departure, Bohn said that Smith Gilbert had turned USC into “a national force”.

But why she departed USC for Georgia so quickly after adding another national championship to her mantle remains unclear. In addition to its latest national title, USC just recently opened a new $16-million track and field facility on campus.

Smith Gilbert told reporters in Georgia she wanted to “go into a more intense conference for track and field and to be competitive throughout the South.”

“I think USC is a great place, and I love USC,” Smith Gilbert said, “but … I know my recruiting is kind of aimed at Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia so, spent more time in my suitcase than I did at home, so that was the thing for me to do as far as logistics was concerned.”

Elevating Watts to director of track and field should help smooth over that transition at USC, as well. Bohn said he was impressed by “the overwhelming support Quincy has from our current team”, while Watts called his hiring “the beginning of a moment I have dreamed about for years.”

“The first person I thought about today was my father,” Watts said. “I looked at a lot of schools when I was being recruited in high school, but when I chose USC, my father jumped up and down. He told me that USC was always his favorite school, but he wanted the decision to be mine.”

Watts spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Cal State Northridge before joining Smith Gilbert’s staff in 2014. Four years later, he helped the Women of Troy to a national title.

Now, he’ll be tasked with defending another national championship in his first year on the job.

latimes.com

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UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan (@utahtrojan)
June 19, 2021 8:24 am
TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
June 19, 2021 9:16 am
Reply to  UtahTrojan

Utah, Great post! Thanks for putting it up. I had not thought about this, but you have to admit that ASU’s football staff was incredibly stupid in handling this. ASU’s staff clearly understands that SC is now vulnerable and ASU was going to have a better 2021team than SC. They decided that the Covid regs, which they knew SC would honor, gave them an additional advantage, if they were willing to break them. And, they probably have figured out that the window of SC staying as vulnerable as it is now was closing. So, they choose to seek to move… Read more »

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
June 19, 2021 5:27 am

Smith Gilberts’ reasons for leaving seem fishy to me. Sure, the SEC has some powerful track and field squads, especially Georgia. But the PAC-12 with USC, UCLA and Oregon are equally as strong. She must have been given an offer she couldn’t refuse. They do things different in the South and at a different pace. If the schools really want someone, they are very successful in getting it done. Why the NCAA continues to hound the PAC-12 with the recent ASU football news and virtually ignores the SEC has always been a craw in my side. I went to the… Read more »

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
June 22, 2021 6:50 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’d love to rub that in the face of my former High School Schoolmate, Dwight Stones. He was a Senior when I was a Sophomore at Glendale, CA HS and held the national high jump record at 7’1 & 1/4″ in 1971. He then went to UCLA on a track & field scholarship and competed in the 1976 Olympics where his big ego cost him a medal. He passed on a height he could have easily cleared and then blew the three attempts at the higher mark. He announces NCAA track and field and has always been biased towards the… Read more »

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
June 22, 2021 3:45 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Agree 100% Allen!

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
June 26, 2021 3:14 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Again, I agree 100% about kitten Clay. When I feel down or that I just can’t catch up with life, I’ll watch the replay of the anchor leg run by Kendall Ellis and it gives me hope.

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
June 19, 2021 9:08 am
Reply to  rleeholder1

rlee, I am with you. Notice money is not mentioned once in the article. I cannot imagine that money was not the prime motivation. As I posted earlier, I estimate that GA’s athletics will generate about $100,000,000 in revenue more than SC in 2021 (due to the gross mismanagement of the Conference and the SC football program). That gives GA a huge advantage in paying coaches in minor non-revenue sports. I think the Pac 12 Presidents have finally grasped that point (any rational 9th grader would have figured it out about 3 years ago! But the geniuses we having running… Read more »

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
June 22, 2021 6:55 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

I was going to attend the SC vs ASU game in Tempe this year as I know live in Bullhead City, AZ in retirement. I may change my mind and come over to catch a game in the Coliseum with my son who lives in Thousand Oaks. I’m thinking the Utah game on Oct 9 will be a good one and ironically, my son’s 27th Birthday is the following day.

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan (@utahtrojan)
June 18, 2021 4:36 pm

I have no idea whatsoever if this is the right hire or not. What worries me though is that we have a horrible history of elevating legends on the field to leadership positions.

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
June 18, 2021 4:30 pm

He is the track and field head coach but his title of Director kind of makes it sound he is working in the AD’s office.

Trojan5
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Trojan5 (@trojan5)
June 18, 2021 6:48 pm
Reply to  Steveg

Director seems to be the new popular title . They are all over the football landscape. I do not think naming him Director diminishes Quincy or is unique to USC.

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
June 18, 2021 8:40 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

Maybe they could make CH the Director of Football and then hire a genuine head coach after his promotion.

Trojan5
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Trojan5 (@trojan5)
June 19, 2021 9:48 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Here is a question to ponder. Do you think Saban will bring Helton into his rehab program for coaches? If he can rehabilitate Locksley from his dismal performance at New Mexico, there might be hope for Helton.

Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
June 19, 2021 6:35 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Clay always speaks highly about you.

I kid Allen, I kid. 😀