Something about yesterday evening's craziness - the leak of Ben Howland's imminent firing - it's just beyond bizarre. It doesn't make any sense. Let's take a close look at perhaps the first place - theRecruitScoop.com - that posted the story (emphasis added throughout):
Multiple sources said Howland would not be retained but the UCLA athletic department was looking to keep second-year assistant coach Korey McCray on board.
McCray, the lead recruiter for the staff, was instrumental in the recruitment of current players Tony Parker, Jordan Adams and others, as well as the 2013 recruiting class.
"A staff member just called me about an hour ago," one source said when informed of the plan to terminate Howland's contract. "It should be interesting who they bring in. They said [VCU head coach] Shaka [Smart] is the No. 1 candidate."
The source said McCray is scheduled to meet with UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero on Sunday, and Guerrero is expected to keep him on the staff due to the potential ramifications of McCray's departure.
The first major traditional media news source that went national with this was Yahoo!. They also identified a "source closed to Howland" and named McCary in their story:
Howland has been notified that he's been fired, two sources confirmed to Yahoo! Sports on Saturday afternoon. An official announcement from UCLA is expected to come within the next 48 hours.
"He had an amazing turnaround this season, but he knew he was going to be fired a long time ago," a source close to Howland said.
UCLA released a statement late Saturday night that read, "Contrary to multiple media reports this evening, UCLA has not fired men's basketball coach Ben Howland."
According to the sources, second-year assistant coach Korey McCray will at least temporarily remain on staff and run the program during the coaching search, a source said. McCray was instrumental in the recruitment of freshmen Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, all of whom UCLA would surely like to have remain in the program under the new coach.
The common threads in both stories:
- Multiple sources.
- One of the sources being "close to Howland" and the other one who had access to "a staff member"
- Kory McCray staying on to run the program on an "interim" basis
Hmm. Why would someone leak this story? What could the motivations be here? Any ideas? . I don't want to connect any kind of dots but the coincidences are very weird.
BTE re Kory McCary - I really hope even Dan Guerrero is not stupid enough to entertain the notion that he should be dictating to the next coach who he should keep on the staff. Given the disaster that turned out to be his second football "search" when he essentially arranged for Rick Neuheisel to enter a situation where he had no choice but to retain Dewayne Walker as the defensive coordinator, really hope we are not going to go down that road again to hold on to some recruits. It should be never about those recruits. It should be about those four letters - a basic lesson Chianti and legions of UCLA fanbase ignored, when they embraced another year of Howland just so they could have his number 1 recruiting class.
It also doesn't make any sense that the leak would come from one of Dan Guerrero's associates in the athletic department. What makes even less is the clumsy response from the Morgan Center to deny the report. They really had to do nothing except to release the official statement when they were ready. Then again we can't count on Guerrero to execute basic communications plan, which makes all of us more than little worried that he would be able to execute the hiring of an elite head coach.