He announced his resignation Thursday, effective at the end of the season.
"My wife Betty and I are going back to California," he said. "Both of our moms are in their 80s, and our boys are out of school and we want to be with them," Boyd said Thursday by phone from Starkville, Miss. "I made the announcement at this time, just before our league opener with Alabama (Thursday night), to give my assistants time to relocate. Also, it will give the administration here time to not make a hurried decision in regard to my replacement.
"Last year, there was speculation here that I would become Washington's coach, even though I wasn't even interviewed for the job. This ends all speculation of what I'm going to do."
Boyd said that he and his wife plan to live in Palm Desert. As for his future, he said: "I really have no plans on what I'm going to do."
Boyd, 55, didn't rule out the possibility that he may coach again, adding, "If this job was in Orange County or L.A. County I might be coaching until I'm 65."
Boyd's decision to resign came as no surprise to his friends here, or to Donald Zacharias, the university president, who said: "He has been planning to make a career decision for some time."
There was speculation, however, that Boyd might have remained at the school if he had been offered the athletic director's job. Charlie Carr recently became the athletic director.
It is believed that Boyd wanted the dual role of athletic director and basketball coach for one season, before settling permanently into the administrative job. But the school hedged, then hired Carr instead.
Mississippi State has a 3-7 record after losing to Alabama, 71-62, in overtime Thursday night, but Boyd has done a creditable coaching job in his four previous seasons at the school.
In his first season at Mississippi State, he took an 8-19 club and turned it into a 17-12 winner that went 9-9 in the Southeastern Conference. Last season, Boyd's team was contending in the SEC with a 9-5 record before he lost his starting center and a guard to injury and illness, and wound up 9-9.
His overall record at Mississippi State was 47-65 before this season. He had often said that recruiting players to Starkville wasn't an easy assignment, but his disciplined teams were difficult to beat, and he pulled off upsets occasionally, even against powerful Kentucky.
Boyd is known as a coach's coach, a close friend of Pete Newell, the former California coach, and Indiana's Bob Knight.
Stan Morrison, USC's coach, who was an assistant under Boyd at one time, said he would be glad to see his old friend again.
"Bob is at the top of the list," Morrison said. "He was enjoyable to be with and he has an outstanding basketball mind. He always retained his sense of humor and had the great strength to avoid peripheral distractions and get into the meat and potatoes of his work."
Boyd's abrupt resignation Thursday was reminiscent of his leaving USC in the middle of the 1978-79 season, his 13th at the school.
Boyd approached Dick Perry, USC's athletic director at the time, and asked him whether his contract would be extended after the season.
Perry said, in effect, that a decision would be made at the end of the season. Boyd then surprisingly announced he would resign at the end of the season.
As it turned out, Boyd had one of his best years, a 20-9 overall record and a 14-4 finish in the Pacific 10 that put his team into the NCAA playoffs. Morrison then succeeded Boyd.
Boyd, who coached at Seattle University before taking the USC job in 1967, had an overall record of 216-131 as Trojan coach. Throughout most of his tenure at USC, he was battling John Wooden and the UCLA dynasty.
The ultimate frustration occurred in the 1970-71 season, when the Trojans compiled a 24-2 record, losing only to UCLA. In those years, only the conference champion advanced to the NCAA tournament.
It's possible that USC might have had the second-best team in the country, but it stayed home.
Now Boyd, a native of Southern California, is coming home, perhaps permanently.
Stan Morrison said Thursday that guard Tom Lewis, USC's leading scorer with an average of 18.4 points a game, won't play in a conference game Sunday at 2 p.m. against Oregon at the Forum.
Lewis sprained his right ankle last Saturday in USC's 59-54 nonconference victory over Creighton at the Sports Arena.
"The swelling has gone down now, but the ankle looked just awful at the time," Morrison said. "He had a lump on his ankle the size of a baseball. We want to get him ready for the Washington series next week on the road."
Morrison said that Lewis, the highly regarded freshman from Santa Ana Mater Dei High School, sprained his ankle last summer and has been bothered by it from time to time.
With Lewis inactive, Bo Kimble, a freshman from Philadelphia, will start at guard. Kimble came off the bench against Creighton to score 16 points while making 8 of 10 free throws, 4 late in the game.
Basketball Notes USC is 5-5 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-10. . . . Coach Stan Morrison ruefully noted that USC is the only conference team that will have played Oregon State at full strength. The Beavers beat the Trojans Dec. 22 at the Sports Arena, 68-64. Guard Darrin Houston and forward Mike Kaska were factors in the game. Now, they're academically ineligible for the rest of the season. USC was originally scheduled to play Oregon State this week, but the Sports Arena was unavailable because of an ice show. . . . Trivia: Bruce Parkhill, Penn State's basketball coach, once earned money as a baby-sitter for Penn State football Coach Joe Paterno.