Why am I not surprised? While Alford will get a fair shake from UCLA fans (let's see what he can do for a few seasons before casting judgment), this is another major failure for Chianti Dan. The chianti swilling buffoon came into the process promising UCLA fans (in his lame Word from Westwood
blog email) that he'd get "a coach to Westwood who we can all be excited about." Naturally, this was followed by Chianti / Morgan Center sources floating names like Brad Stevens, Billy Donovan, and Rick Pitino. It became well known and reported by numerous media outlets, including in-the-know places like BRO, that UCLA was in the mix for Stevens. Chianti Dan builds up anticipation and then, all of a sudden, Stevens indicates (in a pretty subtle and classy way) that he is staying at Butler, and Chianti pulls the trigger on what is clearly a back-up option in Alford.
Gee, doesn't this have shades of every other coaching search this moron has been involved in? We might as well re-name Brad Stevens as Chris Petersen II. No offense to Steve Alford (and we all hope he gets it done in Westwood, just as we hope Jim Mora works out long-term and not as a one-hit wonder), but I doubt a lot of other programs were chasing after our new head coach, especially after his Lobos choked in the first round to Harvard. After-all, none of the other blue-blood programs were in hiring mode: Coach K is obviously secure at Duke, UNC has finally found a worthy replacement to Dean Smith in Roy Williams, Self is secure at Kansas, and while Calipari had a down year at Kentucky, he's only one season removed from the national title.
So, after striking out on Stevens, not even making a serious and sincere play for Shaka Smart, and allowing rumor to creep out that big-money offers were being put together, with the help of large booster money, to chase a top-tier coach like Donovan or Pitino, we end up settling on a clear second-tier hire of a guy no one else was chasing? Steve Alford would have been available next week, or hell, next month. It begs the question of what happened to the chase for Donovan and Pitino. Were they unlikely to leave their current very-good situations to come to UCLA? Perhaps. But was any effort expended on following up with them? Did Chianti pursue the top-tier guys and strike out? Or, did he chase Stevens, fail, and desperate to make a hire, settled on Steve Alford? It's not like we had to worry about missing out on him: he wasn't going anywhere. And were better second-tier hires like Greg Marshall (or hell, Jay Wright) even pursued?
On the plus side, we didn't end up with a NBA re-tread or a loser like Lorenzo Romar, so that's a bonus. But once again, Chianti Dan promised big and delivered low, which in the bigger picture really is unfair to Steve Alford. UCLA fans were promised a big splash hire, and they got . . . Steve Alford. So, now we have a coach coming into Westwood, facing high (but reasonable) expectations of a consistently elite program (on par with Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky), and a fan base that was given tastes of Stevens, Donovan, or Pitino by the idiots at Morgan Center. It's hard not to feel like this hire was Chianti giving us all one last turd sandwich.
So, we're in wait-and-see mode on our new head coach. Let's hope he can get it done. But once again, Chianti Dan has proven he cannot manage an elite athletic department. Never mind he demonstrated how clueless he is with his own announcement on the hire (HT uclatroy):
Dan Guerrero's statement refers to Steve Aflord bringing an "up-tempo" style. New Mexico ranked 239th in possessions per 40 min this year.— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) March 30, 2013
But watch, his contract will be extended because Gene Block is a feckless, empty-suit academic bureaucrat with no vision.
So, with all of that said, let's look at Alford's career, by the numbers and see what we have in Westwood.
First, his overall Division I head coaching record stands at 463-235 (.663). In comparison, Howland currently stands at 398-205 (.660), while Lavin stands at 168-92 (.622). If you look at who the reported targets in this hiring process were, it's not an inspiring hire in comparison: Brad Stevens (166-49 or .772), Shaka Smart (111-36 or .753), Billy Donovan (450-185 or .709), Rick Pitino (660-239 or .734). The top second-tier candidate, Gregg Marshall also notched a slightly better winning record, standing at 332-152 (.686), but has a more consistent record of tournament appearances and building a program (whereas Alford struggled at Iowa before escaping a firing by heading to New Mexico). And if you look at the elite coaches, you'll obviously see higher marks: Tom Izzo (437-176 or .713), Coach K (957-296 or .764), Roy Williams (700-180 or .795), and Bill Self (507-164 or .756). If you're curious, Coach retired at 620-162 (.808). So, overall, Alford's winning percentage is slightly better than Howland, but not close to any of the tier-one hires we were hoping for.
Alford got his Division I start with Southwest Missouri State (now just Missouri State) in 1995, and in four years there, he came up with a 78-48 record and took his team to the Sweet Sixteen in his final season in Springfield. He parlayed that into a better job in a major conference with Iowa, building on a reputation of being the next big young coach. Except Iowa never really went anywhere. There was a handful of NCAA tournament appearances, never getting past the second round, and a couple of NIT appearances, but Iowa just sort of ran middle-of-the-road, which had Alford on the hot seat at the end of tenure. He left Iowa after 8 seasons, posting a 152-106 (.589) record. On the plus side, he only had one losing season there, his first (14-16), but Iowa never really did much. After landing in New Mexico in 2007, Alford seemed to turn it around (perhaps because of the step-down from the Big Ten to the Mountain West), taking the Lobos to 24-9 in his first season and a NIT berth. He turned New Mexico into consistent 20+ game winner and notched a pNow that Chianti Dan, after bumbling through another head coaching search (chasing Brad Stevens and failing, just like he chased Chris Petersen and failed), has made it official by announcing New Mexico's Steve Alford as UCLA's new men's head basketball coach, we take a look at Alford's coaching career by the numbers to try to figure out what we're in for in Westwood.air of back-to-back tournament appearances before jumping ship to Westwood. He left New Mexico with a 155-52 (.749) record.
So, it's a mixed bag really. On one hand, he was mediocre in a major conference, and Iowa fans weren't exactly enamored with him by the end. On the flip side, he seems to have sort-of figured it out, turning New Mexico into a consistent winner. But Ben Howland turned Northern Arizona and Pitt into winning programs and ultimately we saw how that turned out.
So, now we play the waiting game and see how this turns out. But, time has definitely run out on Chianti Dan: yet another bungled, poorly-executed coaching search, resulting in mismanaged expectations, striking out on top-tier targets, with an uninspired "safe" hire who he's banking on being a winning lottery ticket. But hey, this is what you get when you hire a clueless ex-jock (who wasn't even good) with no real experience running a top-tier athletic department (unless you consider Cal State Dominguez Hills and UC Irvine the pinnacle of college athletics) and zero experience managing a BCS conference football program. Brilliant work UCLA, brilliant.