As Nestor wrote earlier this week, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero publicly trashed UCLA hoops even more so than when he dissed Brad Stevens and hired Steve Alford. There is so much to criticize Guerrero for in his comments that it is hard to know where to begin.
I am not sure I can dumb it down enough for Guerrero to understand but I will try, just in case he reads this. I will write about coaches past, present and future.
First, the "pool of coaches" interested was not small. Top tier choices like Stevens, Pittino, Donovan, Smart, and even Bill Self were all those who expressed "interest." I have reason to believe at least one of those was interested only in using UCLA but, on the other hand, the best of the group IMHO wanted the job until Dan blew it. Also, this does not even get to the second tier of coaches that could have been considered. Does anyone besides Dan seriously think a coach like Wichita State's Gregg Marshall could not be enticed to listen to UCLA?
As proof, you need to go no further than the past and a "good hire" made by Guerrero, Ben Howland. Yes, Howland did not work out but at the time of his hiring Howland was coming off twice wining arguably the toughest conference in basketball with a team that had previously only been to the NIT once in five years.
Look at what Wikipedia Pitt page says on Howland:
Howland was named the Big East Coach of the Year, Naismith College Coach of the Year, and won the Henry Iba Award as best college basketball coach as named by the United States Basketball Writers Association. Following the 2003 season, Howland left Pitt for the only job he said he would ever contemplate leaving Pitt for: the head coach position at UCLA.
At the time Howland was a great hire for his resume and because he really wanted the UCLA job. (As an aside does anyone think this is the ultimate job for Alford? You have to believe his goal would be to IU coach.)
Ironically, the UCLA head coaching job at the time of Howland's hiring was not as desirable because Lavin had destroyed the team and had a losing record the season before. Compare that to this season when the team just won the PAC 12, has one of the PAC 12's best players returning in Jordan Adams, and one of college basketball's most unique talents in Kyle Anderson.
But even the depths of post Lavin despair, Howland realized UCLA was the ultimate job in college basketball. I would submit Stevens thought so as well which is why he met with UCLA before leaving to take one of the ultimate jobs in pro-basketball with the Celtics.
So Dan what changed in ten years, besides your waist line and contract, which led you to panic-hire Alford after the great hire of Ben Howland in 2003? Actually I will answer that question. You were embarrassed by your incompetent football coaching search failures of high profile targets such as Chris Petersen and even lesser targets such as Kevin Sumlin. You were embarrassed when they very publicly turned you down. If you continued talking to the Pittino, Donovans, etc. of the world, at least one if not more would have turned you down. So you panic hired Alford to avoid personal embarrassment.
Not only was that stupid because of your previous success with Howland it was stupid because of what happen with Lavin. Other coaches realized that Lavin was a joke barely removed from being a graduate assistant that could not coach at the time of his hiring at UCLA.
Yet Lavin despite being a clueless coach was able to recruit using the UCLA name and "roll the ball out on the court" coaching style well enough to regularly go to the sweet 16. A good coach, as Howland did before he imploded and his flaws were exposed, could do much more. And as far as job security or pressure, Lavin might have survived longer at UCLA had he not bet the farm on a bad evaluation of Cedric Bozeman as the next Magic Johnson at point guard. if a non-coach such as Lavin could hold the job so long, just think what a real coach could do.
Lavin proves that anyone can make a sweet 16 just by being coach at UCLA. Now compare that to what a Gregg Marshall has to go through. Marshall has to work his behind off recruiting and then win his conference tournament just to make the NCAA tournament most years. You have to believe an ultra-competitive guy like Marshall would relish the chance to coach at UCLA where a good year would be a final four, not a once in a school history occurrence.
Forget about Alford for a moment. Mr. Guerrero if you do not appreciate the incredible advantages of UCLA, nor understand history, you need to leave right now. Shame on you if you do not.