Whatever Morgan Center might be saying at the moment about Ben Howland's status at UCLA, pretty much everyone in sports media and otherwise knows that his termination is imminent, if not already affected. With this news comes the typical reaction by said sports media figures about how great a coach Ben is (not 'was); how unreasonable the expectations of UCLA fans are and that the job really is not good enough to attract talented coaches.
ESPN personalities like Jay Bilas and Doug Gottlieb have been running point on this effort so far, but not everyone affiliated with the four letter network has gotten the memo. Bomani Jones, a regular panelist on ESPN's Around the Horn and other programs on the network (and a contributor to SBNation.com, along with other media ventures), spent much of his Saturday tweeting about the demise of the Ben Howland Era in Westwood.
@bomani_jones Yeah, good point. Even players on his successful teams didn't like him, much less this bunch. I— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) March 23, 2013
CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman chimed in to talk about what some of Ben's former players thought about him, leading to discussion of one of the main points that we have been making about why Howland needed to be replaced: The inexcusably 'dreadful' state of recruiting the past few years.
After the conversation about Ben was done, Bomani turned to tweeting about the UCLA job, Howland's style of play and his thoughts on candidates - he really likes the idea of Shaka Smart coming to Westwood.
all shaka needs to understand, right now, is "72 and sunny every day." assuming guerrero isn't a complete fool.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
To be fair, Bomani might not know how dangerous an assumption that is to make. He does understand that UCLA remains an elite job in the college basketball world and the pull that it can make on any coach.
if i were him, a top 10 job and commensurate salary. see: ucla. RT @preston_neill: What do you think it will take for Shaka to leave VCU?— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
To note, he is not as big on Brad Stevens as most others, at least for UCLA. The thought being that recruits are not as drawn to a slower, more deliberate style of play (though Stevens does not have Ben's personality issues wrt recruiting and player retention) as compared to Shaka et al. He talked a bit about Ben's personality, as well:
the idea anyone would cape up for howland is beyond me. it. is. OVER. and this roster certainly underachieved. deuces.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
His response to some folks that responded to his posts noting that players dislike playing for Ben by playing blame on the players that chose to come to UCLA:
when one player doesn't like you, it's one thing. two? it's another. when damn near every player hates you, and you can't tell, it's YOU.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
plus, @jabarber1, usually when someone sells you that turns out to be not as advertised, you blame the salesman. hell's wrong with you?— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
Jay Bilas's water-carrying for Howland was also a point of contention for Bomani:
first for everything RT @jaybilas: How many coaches with 3 Final Fours are fired after winning league title and going to NCAA Tournament?— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
i'll say it, unequivocally: everyone who disagrees on howland is just dead ass wrong. everyone. RT @rdewitt64: Bilas disagrees lol— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
.@jaybilas will be sorry to see ben howland go. coincidentally, he does not play for ben howland.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 24, 2013
Also do not count him as one of the people who are shocked! Shocked, I tell you! That the coach of a conference-winning team could be on the hot seat:
but hey, #shoutout to everyone saying "ucla won the pac-12" like it isn't -- and hasn't been -- down down down. cmon.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
Just to point out that winning a major conference is not necessarily a great way to judge the quality or future prospects of a coach:
this really happened RT @dhpiv: Dave Leitao won the ACC. Nobody in the know was impressed.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
I was at UVa the year that Leitao led the Cavaliers to the regular season ACC Championship. It was a great experience to be a part of, but meant little to the future lack of success for the program or for Leitao, who was fired two Tournament-less years later in favor of Tony Bennett.
He might not be a Bruin, but he knows us well enough. so let's just end it on this:
dear ucla: this is NOT what your fans want to hear is.gd/9whMYk— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 24, 2013