The focus the last two days has been on the statements in the Sports Illustrated story and how those events, if true, reflect badly on our basketball coach and athletic director. We have also learned that Nelson, through his lawyer, denies the accusations and has demanded a retraction. Nelso also admits the accusations, depending on who he is talking to. Some former players have come out in Coach Howland's defense. I don't think I have read anything to the effect that any of the worst behavior has been categorically denied by any of the principals.
Let us assume that the Sports Illustrated reporter confesses that he made invented the entire article, that Sports Illustrated retracts the article, fires the reporter, and makes a big payoff to Nelson because of the damage he was caused. Everyone who ever wrote anything or said anything critical of Coach Howland based on the article humbly apologizes. What's left?
We are left where we were on February 28. We are left with a coach whose record has deteriorated over the past three years. We are left with a coach who is not going to get us into the playoffs again. We are left with a coach who has lead us to some of the most humiliating losses in our history. This year, we have lost to teams who really should have had to buy tickets before they were let into any building where we were playing. We are left with a coach who cannot, despite all his efforts, recruit players to fill our needs. We are left with a coach who cannot keep players in the program once he recruits them (and that is said without any suggestion of why they chose to leave.)
In my opinion, even if the Sports Illustrated story never had been written, Coach Howland is no longer an effective coach for our team, and he should be dismissed. Immediately.
Also, even if the Sports Illustrated article never had been written, we have the worst athletic director in modern UCLA history, measured any way you want to measure it. He certainly has allowed our two revenue producing sports to decline into what he has admitted is irrelevance. (I can't remember where he said it, but I know I commented on the fact that Guerrero himself said that he wanted our teams to RETURN to relevance, meaning that he understood we no longer were relevant.)
We can debate all we want about the allegations in the Sports Illustrated article, but at the end of the day, that story doesn't matter. What matters is the state of our football and basketball programs under Director Guerrero and Coach Howland. Neither man is producing. I'm sure each is a nice person and is well loved by members of their immedicate families. I wish each of them well on that level. I hope they both land nice jobs in the future. Neither should be allowed to continue another day at UCLA based on their perfomance measured by unchallengeable numbers.
As always, I invite anyone who thinks that either Coach Howland or Director Guerrero should be retained to explain his or her reasons. As always, I expect no one to rise to that challenge.