Bumped from Fanposts. Go Bruins. - BN Eds.
Sometimes when we look at the past we get lucky. We're able to gain insights that can help us deal with this complex world. The great philosopher George Santayana once said, "Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them."
But in general, most people ignore those lessons. Maybe it's because they're inconvenient; maybe it's because they're not understood.
For my part, let me be clear: I count Gene Block among those for whom the past is not a prologue; among those who see but have no vision. I believe Mr. Block has ignored - I don't know whether it's willfully or not - what has made UCLA stand out among American universities: a great (not good) record in academics and sports.
Frankly, it has become tiresome to discuss the record of Dan Guerrero. (And I would point out that the success of the football team is the exception that proves the rule. Jim Mora appears to be a winner, but Mr. Guerrero's way of conducting the search for a coach seemed to consist mainly of flailing.)
So the question, Mr. Block, is what are you going to do about it? This isn't a question equivalent to the effect of gravity on black holes. Sports management isn't your area of expertise; the only question is whether Dan Guerrero has the required expertise. In my opinion, he doesn't.
So let me repeat what others have said: You are not just the steward of UCLA's academic life; you are responsible for hiring the right people to run a successful athletic program. And that includes UCLA's shining legacy: the history of John Wooden-coached basketball teams.
(I hate saying the obvious, but no one on this site expects a championship run like Coach Wooden's. We do, however, expect to see pride, discipline and purpose. Who else said that recently? Oh, yeah, a guy named Bill Walton, one of the two greatest centers to play college basketball in the last 50 years.
(And by the way, speaking of Walton, Ben Howland has resorted to using a subtle, and I think misleading, way of responding to his criticism. By saying Walton is above reproach because of the historic win streak he was associated with, Howland seems to imply that Walton's era belongs to a world we will never see again. So, Ben, here's a news flash: We just want to be proud of our team again; that's all.
(Two other concerns while I'm digressing: First, one of our highest goals is to see our players become better people because they took the court with "UCLA" on their uniforms. If that is happening now, I don't see it. Do you, chancellor? Second, isn't it time for the donors whom UCLA depends on to withhold their money? If they don't support athletic programs until Dan Guerrero leaves, the pressure will be ratcheted up significantly.)
It's the impression of many writers on this site - certainly me - that a successful athletic program is not one of your priorities. In any case, I believe Mr. Guerrero's contract expires soon. If that's true, your choices are obvious.
You can replace Dan Guerrero or you can retain him. No one knows what you'll decide, but if you renew Mr. Guerrero's contract, I believe many observers will draw two conclusions. The first is that you failed to adapt to the realities of UCLA (as opposed to, say, the University of Virginia). The second is that because you failed to adapt you will not be missed when you step down, as all officials do.
We're all part of history, traveling a path of our own, Mr. Block. It's up to you to choose the right direction.