However, some UCLA basketball fans ignore the present because they can't repeat the past. They ask us, "How can you get rid of a coach who went to three Final Fours?"
The answer: It's very easy. The history of college basketball is littered with coaches who have won national championships and/or went to multiple Final Fours, only to lose control of their programs (or themselves) and be forced out for one reason or another.
Here are examples of these failed coaches:
Everette Shelton (Wyoming national championship 1943) - Known for having several teams refuse to play his squad because of his bigoted remarks, in his last four years at Wyoming he went 30-74 and "retired", only to show up coaching at Sacramento St the next year.
Bill Henderson (Baylor) - Final Fours in 1948 and 1950, but had only four winning seasons in the next 13 years with a best of 14-10.
Nat Holman (CCNY 1950) - Only coach to win NCAA and NIT tournaments in the same year, but from 1952-60 went 26-51 and retired.
Ken Loeffler - (LaSalle 1954) - Just three years after winning the championship, his coaching career ended after being forced to resign from Texas A&M due to recruiting violations.
Phil Woolpert (USF 1955,1956) - After a four year run of success only exceeded by John Wooden, he couldn't handle the pressure and the program fell apart going 6-20 followed by his resignation.
Frank McGuire (North Carolina 1957) - Forced out in 1961 due to NCAA violations and rumors of point shaving.
Forrest "Forddy" Anderson (Michigan St) - Made two Final Fours at Bradley and one at Michigan St in 1957. From 1960-65 he had five losing seasons going 48-86 and finished his career at something called Hiram Scott.
Fred Taylor (Ohio St 1960) - Made three consecutive Final Fours in 1960-61-62. In his last three years, they were 29-49 and he resigned at the age of 52 after a 6-20 season.
Ed Jucker (Cincinnati 1961,1962) - Made three consecutive Final Fours 1961-63, but resigned after an 11-16 conference record in the next two years claiming the pressures of the job were affecting his health.
George Ireland (Loyola -Ill 1963) - Was 40-69 in his last seven years.
Dave Strack (Michigan) - Went to consecutive Final Fours in 1964 and 1965. Two years later he was 8-16 and 11-13 and stepped down at the age of 45 to take a position in the athletic department and never coached again.
Bob Knight (Indiana 1976,1987) - Forced to resign in 2000 due to bad behavior.
Steve Fisher (Michigan 1989) - Also made consecutive Final Fours in 1992-93. Fired in 1997 when details of the Ed Martin scandal surfaced.
Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV 1990) - Forced to resign in 1992 for repeated problems with the NCAA and players getting in trouble.
Noland Richardson (Arkansas 1994) - Fired in 2002 after disagreements with the administration.
Jim Harrick (UCLA 1995) - Fired in 1996 for lying to the administration.
Bill Guthridge (North Carolina) - Final Fours in 1998 and 2000, but resigned after the 2000 season in which he faced heavy fan criticism, with two years left on his contract
Tubby Smith (Kentucky 1998) - Although some of the above examples weren't due to performance on the court, this is the one to which UCLA fans should pay the most attention. Smith was forced out due to pressure from dissatisfied fans. Those Kentucky fans seem to have much higher standards than some Bruin fans. After winning a national championship in his first year, Smith averaged 25 wins a season and made the NCAA tournament every year, winning at least one game in each. In his worst season he went 22-13 and reached the second round of the tournament. That is about the same as Howland's best year of the last three. In fact Smith went 72-31 with five NCAA wins his last three years. Howland is 56-43 with one NCAA win the last three years (and that doesn't even include the underachieving record so far this year).
So the bottom line is that many coaches who have had great success early, eventually couldn't maintain that level or succumbed to the pressure and were replaced. And it wasn't like all of those programs missed them. USF remained a west coast power after Woolpert, making four Elite Eights, only to be prevented from going to the Final Four by Wooden's championship teams each time. McGuire was replaced by a young coach named Dean Smith and Kentucky obtained a coach who won a national championship.
So I wouldn't feel sorry for Howland. After leaving UCLA he will get a good job at a school where one Final Four would make him a hero for life. But this philosopher says that those who can't repeat the past deserve to be let go.