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Strange Bedfellows: Howland Turns to Simers for Cover

It's THIS GUY's fault! And all the people in the stands are at fault too!
It's THIS GUY's fault! And all the people in the stands are at fault too!

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat. When you're affiliated in any capacity with UCLA and you are turning to the LA Times and especially professional troll TJ Simers for assistance, you know you don't have many friends left. And that's exactly what Ben Howland did, allowing himself to get baited into Simers' web of stupidity (temporarily lifting the policy of not linking to garbage), because he is desperate and has no options.

What is revealing, though, is the depths to which he will sink to defend himself against the mounting factual evidence that suggests he is no longer worthy of our support as the caretaker of Coach's program. The blameapalooza begins with this:

He says he also doesn't put any stock into reports that some of his former players, now in the NBA, do not hold him in high regard.

"That may be the perception, but I don't agree with it; I think my former players respect me and like me," he says, while calling it "bull" if people think players left Coach John Wooden's program immediately singing his praises.

In response to the magazine article, he gave some lip service initially to making adjustments. But cutting through the politically correct rhetoric, he says now, "People want us to win big, and when we're not winning big, people are unhappy."

As waters96 pointed out in our comment threads, this is throwing Coach under the bus. Maybe this isn't what he meant, but comparing the support he gets from his former players with Coach's former players is like night and day, and trying to equate them is an insult to Coach, especially when his lessons transcended the game of basketball, while the lessons Howland teaches get his players kicked off of Lithuanian teams.

In addition, where have we seen the last quotation before? Sounds an awful lot like he's blaming the "pathology of UCLA fans" doesn't it? We've been down this road before and the ending isn't pretty. I guess now that Howland's results are Lavin-esque, he figured he'd adopt his mindset as well.

Howland will be 55 soon, his resume bulging with success, and he sees no reason to re-invent himself because of a magazine article.

Not so bulging recently to be sure. And of course we don't expect him to re-invent himself. That would mean making adjustments, which he doesn't do during games, over the course of a season, and it's one of the reasons he needs to go.

He says he also doesn't trust the media covering the team, which is funny, because it wasn't the local media that went public with the problems at UCLA.

As for the suggestion he does not relate well to today's players, he says, "I don't buy that. Yes, kids have changed, but a lot of it is because of technology."

So the media is to blame for noticing the crappy results and writing accordingly, and if only it weren't for the damn technology, he'd be able to relate better to the kids.

"Do you realize there are grown adults out there following the Twitter accounts of these 19- and 18-year-old kids with their whole lives hanging in the balance on every stupid little tweet. Tweeting — let's be honest, it's like I'm the center of the universe; it's all about me. Everybody is listening to my every thought, and my current thought at this very moment is ... it's ridiculous. Let's get that straight."

Whether or not he has a point about the merits of Twitter, it's funny that he can claim to relate well to today's players and also maintain this kind of attitude.

What's lost in all this is that with all the blame and pointing fingers Howland is doing here; at having to live up to Coach's legacy, at the fans, at technology, at the kids themselves, and the people who follow them on Twitter, there is little in the way of accepting personal responsibility for his failure. He sums it all up with "We've made mistakes". Excuse me, but the mistakes made are more than enough meat for a full article when you compare it to this trivial nonsense he's trotting out as he blames everyone else. A significant portion of the fanbase may have even been placated if we knew that he understood exactly what was wrong over the past few years and laid out in detail his plans to fix it. The "mistakes" deserve more than one line.

Desperation has a pretty bad stench. Simers' column is titled "Ben Howland says he's a good guy". The contents of the article itself suggest he's not.