We've seen a few mentions of this article in our comment threads and a fanshot link, but the OC Register article detailing Dan Guerrero and Gene Block's incompetence, arrogance, and tone-deaf handling of the hiring process of Steve "TRA" Alford and the resulting aftermath has come out from behind its firewall. So let's dig into the meat of this thing.
Those of you who read BN more than casually are likely quite familiar with the disturbing comments Alford made in defense of Pierre Pierce back in Iowa, and the allegations of victim strong arming that followed. Now it would be one thing if TRA had taken the time from that public embarrassment and his subsequent run out of town in Iowa and did some introspection and figured out what it was that he did wrong. Unfortunately at his introductory press conference, TRA was unapologetic, unremorseful, and insistent that he was simply following orders, aka the Nuremberg Defense. Well it didn't work out all that great back then and it didn't work out for Alford either when the involved parties back in Iowa were more than happy to punch holes in his flimsy story.
And that's where this story takes a sad, Chianti fueled turn (emphasis mine):
The emails and documents obtained by the Register reveal how Alford’s April 11 apology for his handling of the Pierce incident came against a backdrop of mounting pressure on Block from a number of faculty and calls for Alford and Guerrero’s futures to be taken up by the school’s academic senate. The documents also show an administration consumed by the controversy. And while several top administrators complained that the scandal was being driven by what one UCLA official referred to as the "irrational fan base," the emails reveal the sharpest criticism of Alford and Guerrero often came from UCLA professors and department heads, officials in the University of California system’s Office of the President and even some of the former Bruins players who were closest to Wooden.
I don't think there's any question as to who the "irrational fan base" here is. I, for one, am proud to be a part of it, and I know I'm not alone. Because only in the eyes of Chianti Dan Guerrero's AD and Gene Block's Murphy Hall is it "irrational" to think that maybe hiring an (alleged)rape apologist to head Coach John R. Wooden's program isn't such a great idea. For the rest of the "irrational fan base", who were told that we were making too big a deal out of this, and that we should let bygones be bygones, aka the USC Plantation Mentality Boys-Will-Be-Boys defense, you know now that you were not alone. That the most respected members of the campus community shared your concerns. That ultimately you were right to have those concerns.
It's also important to note that the apology that eventually came out of TRA that many of us believed to be insincere due to the timing, was indeed not a matter of true remorse, but remorse over getting caught.
And Andy Hill. Remember him? I know many of the old timers here do and many of the rest of us know of him through the stories of his relationship with Coach. Well he didn't hold back in saying exactly what we "irrational" fans were saying at the time:
"BTW, if Dan asked Steve about the Pierre Pierce situation in his interview and got the answer he gave Tuesday then why did we hire him?" Andy Hill, a member of three national title teams under Wooden, wrote in an April 4 email to Rhea Turteltaub, UCLA vice chancellor for external affairs. "If Dan didn’t ask him why is Dan still our Athletic Director?"
Good questions indeed, Mr. Hill. And questions that, might I remind everyone, we still do not have real answers to to this day. As it became clear that someone dropped the ball either in Morgan Center or Murphy Hall or both, and that something was amiss, the PR conflagration only continued to grow:
In an email to Sarna that same day, Vickie M. Mays, a professor in the department of health policy and management, went even further.
"… if what has been reported is accurate then we should request a serious reconsideration of the recent hiring and the continuation of Guerrero," wrote Mays, , who was appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to the House of Representatives’ seat on the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics.
As the outrage grew on campus, so did the concern within the administration offices in Murphy Hall.
A serious reconsideration of Alford and continuation of Guerrero. Does that sound like something Gene Block is interested in? Of course not. He has a Bilkmore to build. Block's entire strategy was to say nothing and run out the clock, so to speak. Thanks to the typical lapdog sycophant Morgan Center Knows Best crowd that infests our fanbase like lice, you'd have to say that his strategy has been quite successful. So hats off Gene, you got through it. Well, until this article came out of course.
As Carole H. Browner, a professor and chair of anthropology, was quoted as saying in the article, this is "a shameful situation". It's a shameful situation that stonewalling from Gene Block will not erase. It's a shameful situation that bloviating non-statements and CYA tactics by Chianti Dan Guerrero will not erase. It's a shameful situation that no number of wins or recruiting battles won by Steve "TRA" Alford will erase. By letting this situation continue, we lose the soul of UCLA Basketball. Andy Hill was talking about TRA reneging on his word to UNM when he made the following statement in the article, but it might as well apply to this whole sordid affair:
"Let's take down Coach's statue and stop pretending we care about anything but the banners."
There are some of us who still care about what Coach taught, believed, and lived. Who still think that we should try to enshrine those values in the program that he built. I'd like to thank uclaluv and JoeBruin15 and many of our readers in particular for taking the lead on this with their petition a few months ago. If you haven't yet read the entire article, please do so, and consider donating to the billboard effort. They still care, and if after reading all that, you still do not care, and are still among those who think "give (Alford) a chance" is still valid cover to shield him from criticism, then you are beyond hope. You deserve this soulless husk of a program, wherein the best case scenario is a few cheap, tawdry wins, that do little to add to the glory of the UCLA Basketball program that Coach built, but much to add to the ego and bank account of the charlatan that has co-opted it.
It's clearer than ever, thanks to the OC Register, that this fish rots from the head down. Block, Dan, and Alford are all manifestations of that rot.