There is no excuse for this. Once more, UCLA looks like a school without a plan, without a direction and without a leader.
It is unfair to the school and it is unfair to Ben Howland who is being given the Richard Nixon treatment: "Let him hang there; let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind." Yes, we have our issues with Howland. And, yes, he must be replaced. But, he deserves a better process than he is getting.
We have been here before. We've been here every time the current AD has had to fire a sitting coach and replace him. Each time we looked foolish and bumbling. Because we were.
There is no excuse for this.
In each of those cases, at the beginning of the coach's last year, it was clear that if he failed it was likely he would have to be replaced.
That is especially clear in the case of Howland who, but for the recruiting class, should have been fired last year; and there were a significant number of calls to fire him anyway -- sacrifice the new class for a clean start; it turns out that those calls were clear and right.
In fact, whether or not a coach is on the hot seat, a good AD would always have a process in place, and a wish list of potential candidates -- just in case he would need to replace him.
Had we won a national championship, what's to say that Howland might not have taken a better job? Can you say for a certainty that any of our coaches won't get run over by a bus? Choke on a donut?
Every good leader, who is responsible for retain/fire decisions, has a process in place should it be necessary to terminate an employee. When the time comes, the process is used.
It is inconceivable that our AD is being taken by surprise by the need to replace Howland. He should have been preparing to do so all season. Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.
He should have known that it might happen going into the season. And, as the season progressed, with the loss of games and student/athletes, the likelihood was great.
Did we all want Howland to win the championship? Of course. Some of us would want him replaced, nonetheless.
If you were AD, wouldn't you at least have a plan in place should we flame out in the first round, like we did?
Instead of taking action, our AD made a statement something like "We will talk with our coaches and make a decision." (This is exactly what he did with CRN.)
What is there to talk about? Is there anything Ben Howland can say to keep his job? Really?
If not, why this delay? Why not act cleanly and decisively?
Yesterday, was a farce. Leaks that Howland has been told he was fired. Howland saying no one had talked with him. And, a very late announcement from our AD that no decision has been made yet. We lost control of the story. We allowed people to ridicule us. We damaged the brand. Pitiful failure.
Ben Howland should no longer be our coach. He should have been terminated Friday. The delay serves no one any good. It simply creates a dialogue that is harming the school.
In a like manner, we should be working our realistic list of potential replacements -- a list that should have been dynamically kept for the last few years.
To be honorably negotiating with others, behind the scenes, we should have fired Howland, first. It is a bit tacky for some of the people we want to be talking about taking a job from a man they know -- a man who is telling the world he still has the job and no one has told him otherwise. Shouldn't Ben Howland be the first person to know he is gone?
The sad thing is that we have no reason to believe that our AD is working an in place, pro active plan. It simply is not consistent with what he has done in the past. And, unfortunately, the present of Ben Howland looks a lot like the past of KD and CRN.
It was not pretty then. And, it is not pretty now.
The one thing we know is that he has not fired Ben Howland yet -- which is the first step in a proper process.
So, it looks like we are winging it. And, our Dumbo can't really fly.
There is no excuse for being unprepared.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.