As we all know the hacks at ESPN, CBS and et al, are calling Ben Howland's firing a travesty. Their only argument of course is 3 Final Fours and a Regular season conference championship this year. So, I put some thought to it came up with this list of honest to God highlights during Howland's time at UCLA.
- One National Championship Game
- 2 Final Fours
- 2 #1 recruiting classes.
That IS a phenomenal accomplishment for a 10 year period. And, I AM grateful. But they are misleading accomplishments.
For example, if he had followed each of those #1 recruiting classes with a Final Four appearance, I doubt he would be fired today. He would have established a cause and effect relationship between his recruiting classes and his results.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true: He was able to sign 2 #1 recruiting classes because of the 3 Final Fours. So, each time he failed to take one of these two celebrated classes to the Final Four, he not only let down his fan base, he let down his players.
3 Final Fours over 10 years averages to just over one every third year. If our last ten years had given us a Final Four every 3.33333333 years; we would not be discussing his firing today. We would have enjoyed the ride, and called it a roller coaster. Because, as much as the early exits hurt, the consistency of peak achievements would have eased the sting. The cause and effect relationship between the occasional #1 recruiting class would have given us years where we watched our players struggle and grow as they endeavored to accomplish their goals.
That is not what we got.