Unbelievable. That's the only way to describe how UCLA, with the top recruiting class in the country, with a projected top-three lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, managed to lose to a unheralded, unranked, afterthought fourth-rate that only began playing Division I basketball in 1994 (and with zero post-season success). To put this in perspective, imagine what the reaction would be if Alabama lost to Southern Miss (0-12), Kansas (1-10), Colorado (1-11), or hell, some joke Division I-AA program like Idaho State (1-11). Imagine the fallout if Manchester United, or Real Madrid, or Juventus lost to the Los Angeles Blues (of the USL Professional Division, our third tier league, two steps removed from MLS). Let that sink in.
Inexcusable. Not just the loss, but the fact that Chianti Dan has allowed Ben Howland to remain in his job prior to this season, despite the fact that Howland is the only UCLA coach to preside over three consecutive double-digit losing seasons since Wilbur Johns in the 1940s. Oh, and don't forget that he's missed the tournament more often than Steve Lavin did. Yes, that's right: Howland's track record is pathetically on par with frauds like Steve Lavin. Bear in mind that it was only last season that Howland's pathetic dumpster fire trainwreck program was snubbed by the NIT. Yes, Coach's program, the once-proud definition of success in college basketball was snubbed by a second-tier loser's tournament. Yet, people wanted to hold on to the hope that Howland would magically turn it around with a roster of one-and-done mercenaries from the AAU circuit. And yet, here we are, the Monday after one of the most pathetic losses to one of the most pathetic opponents UCLA has ever faced.
Hate to say it, but we told you so (back in March):
[T]here's not one word about how disappointing this season has been and how unacceptable the past four years have been, or how it's not acceptable to miss the tournament at UCLA, especially when elite programs still make the tourney in their down years.
Still, this doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement, and we all know that if necessary Chianti Dan will throw anyone under the bus to avoid responsibility for his own leadership failures and save his own job as the highest paid AD in the Pac-12. It looks like Chianti Dan is pinning his hopes on one-and-done teenagers like Shabazz Muhammad. Even if Howland gets a big recruiting class, there's no guarantee that will lead to on-the-court success in 2012-2013 and with the recruiting failures Howland has had in recent years, it seems likely that 2013-2014's roster will be severely depleted.
Howland's record justifies dismissal. Chianti's leadership failures deserve dismissal as well. At least for now, it looks like we'll have to endure another zombie season, but one recruiting class won't fix UCLA basketball's issues and the larger problems with the athletic department can't be solved until Chianti Dan is gone.
It's only going to go downhill from here folks. Fortunately, Jim Mora and his football team has provided all of us in the wider Bruins Nation with a welcome distraction, turning around our fortunes on the gridiron immediately, with a season that has, thus far, met all of our markers for success (9+ wins, including a win over Southern Cal). Then, with Howland somehow getting an elite recruiting class (which seems odd given how terrible UCLA has been the last four seasons) and all the drama surrounding Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad, everyone kind of forgot how terrible Howland has been. Let's not forget: he's hiding behind the three consecutive Final Four runs - without those, there would be nothing for the Howlers to hold on to. The numbers simply don't lie: Howland needs to be fired. Let's take a look at the main highlights and bullet points surrounding Howland and the toxic joke of a program he has built:
- First, it's been clear since at least January that not only does Howland need to be fired, but Chianti Dan needs to join Ben in the unemployment line.As Chianti has demonstrated on multiple occasions, he cannot be trusted to lead the search for UCLA's next basketball coach, especially after watching him flail about in the search for a new football coach, only to luck out on Jim Mora, who (like Howland years ago) put himself in the running by seeking out UCLA.
- In February, Nestor took note of Howland becoming increasingly hypocritical and bizarre in his post-game comments, making it clear that not only does Ben need to go, but Chianti Dan should join him too, since there has been a total failure of leadership in holding Howland accountable for this total joke of a program.
- Once we hit March, Ryan broke down Howland's performance over the past four seasons back in March. And, as mentioned above, the numbers are not only not pretty, but they lead to only one logical conclusion: Ben Howland must be fired immediately.
- Likewise, the numbers when it comes to attendance and fan support do not paint a glowing picture for either Ben Howland or Chianti Dan as they try to put together a product that justifies spending millions on a half-ass renovation project to put old Pauley under glass.
- Of course, it came as no surprise as the NIT, a second-tier program where loser programs play for 69th place, snubbed Ben Howland and his joke UCLA program. Apparently Ben forgot that this is a program where NIT wins are not celebrated: only national title banners hang from the rafters in Pauley Pavilion.
All of these snippets lead to one simple conclusion, which we originally laid out following Ben's latest dumpster fire season:
Fire Dan Guerrero. Replace him with someone who can competently hire an elite basketball coach to take UCLA back to its rightful place at the top of the college basketball world.
Yes, that's right. Chianti Dan doesn't get kudos for lucking into Jim Mora, who so far has been knocking it out of the park on the recruiting trail, hitting all the right notes (although we should temper the enthusiasm until he actually wins games on the field). The body of Chianti Dan's work leaves all of us with zero confidence that he can competently hire a new basketball coach.
It's time for Howland to get the axe. And it's time for Chianti Dan to go with him.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to start the work week with, all in the wake of Howland turning UCLA into a complete and total joke. Fire away with your thoughts, takes, and additions in the comments thread.
FIRE BEN HOWLAND
FIRE CHIANTI DAN GUERRERO