It's Sunday evening, which sadly means a return to work tomorrow, which be exacerbated by the Niners' heart-breaking loss to Eli Manning's Giants in OT (BTW, thanks for blowing it Kyle Williams). Fortunately, the return to work also means we're as far away from Ben Howland's dumpster fire brand of basketball as possible (at least for the time being), which, much like Rick Neuheisel's vespa clown show, is in its final death spiral.
Yes, Ben Howland is finished, but we'll have more on that later. For two years, major questions have been surrounding Howland since the wheels came off the program. We've discussed the various problems surrounding Howland, but while it's clear Howland is our Jeff Tedford for hoops (good, but not great coach, who can build excitement, but never get to the top), the real problem is our idiotic athletic director, Chianti Dan Guerrero, and the sleazy bureaucrats he's surrounding himself with at Morgan Center.
Howland needs to go at the end of this season. He's a good coach, but this is UCLA: we don't hang banners or pat ourselves on the back for Final Four appearances. That weak stuff is for joke programs like U$C. This is Wooden's program. This is where kids like Jordan Farmar walk into Pauley Pavilion and know that only titles get hung in the rafters. Howland simply isn't going to get us there.
But here's the problem: after watching Chianti Dan bungle not one, not two, but three football head coaching searches, there is zero evidence that Chianti Dan won't completely f**k up a coaching search for Ben Howland's replacement. Fortunately, there is a simple (and long overdue) solution:
Fire Dan Guerrero. Replace him with someone who can competently hire an elite basketball coach to take UCLA back to its rightful place at the top of the college basketball world.
Yes, that's right. Chianti Dan doesn't get kudos for lucking into Jim Mora, who so far has been knocking it out of the park on the recruiting trail, hitting all the right notes (although we should temper the enthusiasm until he actually wins games on the field). The body of Chianti Dan's work leaves all of us with zero confidence that he can competently hire a new basketball coach.
It's time for Howland to get the axe. And it's time for Chianti Dan to go with him.
With that, let's turn to bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse at the end of the weekend:
- Let's start with football, because I think Jon Gold is worth mentioning at the top of this weekend's edition of Bruin Bites. Gold has an absolutely pitch-perfect, on-the-money, [insert other catch-phrase here] article on the correlation between the decline of our offensive line and the decline of our program in general (HT 4everBruin). It's a really good read and really highlights what sets Gold apart from the other guys covering Los Angeles sports. It has the kind of depth and critical thinking you would never get from the morons at the Los Angeles Times sports section.
- Sticking with football, the big recruiting news (besides flipping Castro from Oregon) was Coach Mora landing the commitment of Sheldon High (Elk Grove) TE/DE Nate Iese, a very big get in Mora's first recruiting season. Iese's local newspaper, the Sacramento Bee profiled the promising young man this weekend, who talks about his desire to play either TE or DE for Mora, but ideally both.
- Speaking of recruiting, Mora is getting way ahead of the game, making a scholarship offer to 2014 running back Budda Baker, a 5'10", 165 pound sophomore from Belleveue, Washington. The offer to Baker, who fits Mazzone's system, is the first 2014 offer extended by UCLA.
- In case you've missed it, you can keep track of UCLA's recruiting class at the College Football Matrix's 2012 recruiting rankings. Per the guys at CFM, UCLA has been on the move since September 1, gaining 25 spots, to check in tied at #17 overall with Cal (and tied at #2 in the Pac-12, behind only Oregon).
- Speaking of Cal, the Golden Bears hired former Dorrell and Neuheisel era DL coach Todd Howard, in a solid downgrade from former DL coach Tosh Lupoi. Howard, a decent coach, who had some solid players, but often couldn't develop talent is also reportedly a decidedly average recruiter. I'm sure David Carter sends his regards. Like his new boss, Jeff Tedford, Howard is an okay coach who will never be great.
- Turning to basketball, former Bruin stud Kevin Love, fresh off his game-winning three-pointer to drop Blake Griffin's Clippers, is about to get paid in a major way, with reports floating of Minnesota offering anywhere between a four-year $60 million or the five-year $80 million max deal for the big man. The max deal would be similar to the five-year, $80 million max deal that Kevin's UCLA teammate, Russell "Flaming Mohawk Will Dunk on You" Westbrook just signed with Oklahoma City. Great to see these Bruins making a huge impact in the NBA. When you look back, with KL and RW on the roster, how did Howland not win a national title?! Pretty inexcusable.
- Turning away from sports, UCLA's tone-deaf administration is in the process of selling the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air. Of course, despite public outcry against the move, and apparently not even bothering to consult with the Carter family. Gee, tone-deaf bureaucrats at Murphy Hall doing something incredibly stupid, where have we heard that before?
- Finally, University of California President Mark Yudof is seriously looking at a proposed alternative to tuition, floated by students at UC Riverside, that will basically required students to pay the university 5% of their wages for twenty years following their graduation in exchange for zero tuition while on campus. It's an interesting proposal, and something the system will have to consider in an era of increasing student costs due to declining state support. Obviously, it's be nice if the Legislature could get their act together, cut a lot of the BS that both parties like to pork-up, and get funding to UC, since it's been well-documented that UC actually generates more revenue than it costs in state support. But then again, smart people don't get elected to public office.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites for the end of the weekend. Hopefully, it'll give you something to read as you try to find distraction after the Niners' season-ending loss. Fire away with your thoughts in the comment thread.