This is hard for me to do, but we need to break up. We've had some good times and I thought maybe for a time you might be the one, but alas it turns out you were not. I think in the end this is better for both of us. I feel callous for breaking this to you in a blog, but I need to do this as cleanly as possible. There are too many fish in the sea for both of us. I am sure you will find what you are looking for and I think I have a better chance to find my true love if we do this as soon as possible. I have come to discover I have been playing it safe the past few years. It is not fair to you as my eyes wander to possibly other more suitable fits. I am sure you have sensed this change in your heart, so hopefully we will both find what we are looking for.
One of many Bruin fans
This in my opinion is where we stand. The real question is do UCLA fans and the Athletic Administration want an elite program or just 2nd tier program at best. I am of the opinion we have to dare to be great. Howland has been given plenty of time to establish an elite program and has failed to deliver. Every year we waste I am just getting one year closer to death. I compiled a statistical list of many of Howland's contemporaries the past 9 completed seasons. I ranked Howland and 25 other coaches in win pct.; kenpom avg. off rating; kenpom avg def. rating; kenpom avg overall rating; RPI avg; result pts; and result pts the last 4 seasons. Result pts were accrued by NCAA tournament finish. 2 (1st rd exit), 4 (2nd rd exit), 6 (sweet 16 exit), 12 (elite 8 exit), 20 (final 4 exit), 25 (lost title), 50 (title winner). In addition I deducted 5 pts for no NCAA tournament and -10 pts for an under .500 finish.
I gave Howland the benefit of the doubt here and did not include his 1st season in any statistical measure. I gave no concession to other coaches like Thompson III who in 03-04 was at Princeton and took over a failing Georgetown program in 04-05, or Matta who took over a bad Ohio State program in 04-05, and Matt Painter who took over an ailing Purdue. I also included coaches with as little as 3 years at a small school like Shaka Smart to Buzz Williams with 4 to Brad Stevens and Frank Martin with 5 year records. I also omitted Calipari's Memphis title loss since it was stripped. Here is the final tally based on adding the ranks and totaling the numbers. The lowest number is ranked the highest. This is by no means my list of top coaches, but it sure seems to recognize them anyway.
1. Bill Self - Kansas (17 total pts) : 2nd win pct.(.835) Top kenpom defense (7) and overall (6)
2. Coach K - Duke (19): top avg. RPI (5), top kenpom offense (11)
3. Calipari - Memphis/Duke (27): 1st win pct (.845), most result pts last 4 years (88)
4. Roy Williams - UNC (29): most result pts (134); final 8 or better 6 times ; title, runner-up
Note: Top 4 missed the tournament 2 times total. Williams and Calipari missed tourney once each. Coach K has made it 28 straight seasons when he was not out for health reasons.
5. Matta - Ohio St (53): Despite missing tourney twice he was top 10 in all categories
6. Bo Ryan - Wisconsin (64): tied 4th in avg RPI (18), 11 straight tourney appearances
6. Jim Calhoun - UConn (64): 2 titles, missed tourney twice
8 Tom Izzo - Mich St (67): 15 straight tourney appearances
9. Rick Pitino - Louisville (73): 2 final 4s, 2 elite 8s, 5th kenpom def (18)
10. Donovan - Florida (75): 2 titles then 2 missed tourneys, 2nd kenpom off (12)
11. Jamie Dixon - Pitt (81): missed 1st tourney last season, 4th kenpom off (17)
12. Rick Barnes - Texas (82): 17 straight tourney streak about to end
13. Boeheim - Syracuse (86): 2002-03 title does not make it (sorry Jim)
14. Huggins - Cincy/K St/WVU (97): bouncing around and still higher than Howland
15. Stevens - Butler (104): 2 title losing seasons will propel you despite just 5 years
16. Few - Gonzaga (106): 4th win pct (.795); consistent, but lacking strong tourney runs
17. Buzz Williams - Marquette (120): Just 4 seasons, 7th kenpom off (22)
18. Jay Wright - Villanova (126): 8 straight tourneys ended last year with under-.500 team
19. Frank Martin - K State (131): 5 seasons there had 10th kenpom def (27), 4 tourneys
20. Howland - UCLA (137): last 4 season results (-7) buried him in last; 10th in tourney results overall
NOTE: Remember I did not include his 1st season; Howland ranks 16th win pct (.711), 22nd kenpom off (48), 17th kenpom def (40), 22nd kenpom overall (37), 10th result pts (60), 26th result pts last 4 seasons (-7), 24th RPI (48)
21. Thompson III - Princeton/Georgetown (138):right coach at the right school, but a top coach?
22. Shaka Smart - VCU (139): just 3 seasons and 3 nice tourney showings
22. Painter - S. Illinois/Purdue (139): recent struggles after nice program resurrection
24 Bruce Weber - Illinois (142): great start, fell apart and fired
25. Romar - Washington (155): had to show Pac coaching mediocrity
26. Sean Miller - Arizona (159): took over flailing ‘Zona, verdict still out
This list is far from complete in terms of capable replacements or probable superior coaches. Tom Crean inherited a disaster in Indiana and now has a top program. I would be shocked to see him miss the tournament at all for many years to come. Beilein has re-established Michigan after a nice run at West Virginia. Is Howland any better than him? Some possible strong coaches would also include Dave Rice (UNLV) , Mike Anderson (Arkansas), Dave Rose (BYU), Alford (New Mexico), Gregg Marshall (Wichita St), John Groce (Illinois), Scott Drew (Baylor). Now I am not saying I think they are necessarily better than our current coach, but I do think given the potential for talent and profile of a team like UCLA they have the possibility of doing much better. I know what I have at the moment.. another run of the mill head coach who given some talent might make a run in the tournament. I think that is true of many of these coaches. We need to take a chance to find the coach of our dreams. I doubt any of the comparable top programs would consider what Howland has delivered acceptable.
Here is an honest question. If you coached UCLA for 36 years and had 1 title, 16 sweet 16 appearances, 2 runner-ups and 3 other Elite 8 appearances would that be good enough? This is not to diss a fine coach like Jim Boeheim, but to throw out there that Howland might be at best about as good as he is as a coach. The upside is decent, but the risk for that upside is not a high enough ceiling.
I think we need to keep looking for a coach that can deliver a consistent top 5 program. No ring from me for Coach Howland.