A quick housekeeping note for everyone in this community. New count-up clocks have gone up on the right side of this blog indicating time elapsed since UCLA has won Pac-10 titles in football and in basketball. Those two counters tell us what we need to know about state of both of these major revenue programs.
In the coming days, our front pagers will be relentlessly echoing the expectations for both of these programs. Both Rick Neuheisel and Ben Howland's seats are currently burning in Westwood. For Neuheisel to get off the hot seat, he will need to win 8-9 regular season games and end the current losing streak against Southern Cal. No UCLA coach should be able to hold on to his job if he is 0-4 against the Trojans. In addition, he needs to ensure the Bruins are competitive and are not getting blown out in any of those games with his core group of his own recruited players returning next season.
For Ben Howland, we will make our immediate expectations clear. He is coming off an unacceptable losing season in Westwood which put him on the hot seat here on BN. For him to keep his program viable, especially in the world of recruiting and fundraising for a renovated arena, he must get the Bruins in the Big Dance this season by putting together a solid regular season in which the team improves from week to week. If UCLA does not get into the NCAA tournament this season, Howland's days in Westwood should be numbered.
It is a standard that other great basketball programs adhere to as well. The last time Kansas missed the Tournament two years in a row, 81-82 and 82-83, the coach was fired. Since 1974, North Carolina has missed the Tournament two years in a row only once, 2001-2002 and 2002-03, and the coach was fired. Prior to Ben Howland, the last three times a UCLA coach had missed the Tournament even once, in anything but his first two seasons, the coach was fired or forced out.
We appreciate what both Howland and Neuheisel have done for UCLA. Ultimately though for all of us, it is about those four letters, which will always be more important than any one coach, player or famous alum. We have always maintained the highest of expectations for all of our programs. Considering the circumstances, the expectations above are more than reasonable. If neither Neuheisel nor Howland meet the reasonable expectations above, we expect Dan Guerrero to take necessary steps to get UCLA moving to a different direction.
- BN Editors